What is a Marine Protected Area?
A Marine Protected Area is a clearly defined geographical space, recognised, dedicated and managed, through legal or other effective means, to achieve the long-term conservation of nature with associated ecosystem services and cultural values.
Why are areas protected?
Our seas are home to some of the most biologically diverse habitats and species in Europe. MPAs are one of the tools that can help to protect the marine environment, whilst also enabling its sustainable use, ensuring it remains healthy and contributes to our society for generations to come.
DAERA, working with other UK administrations, is aiming to protect our Marine Species and Habitats by contributing to an ecologically coherent network of MPAs.
Marine Protected Areas in Northern Ireland
In Northern Ireland we currently have the following Marine Protected Areas:
- Marine Special Areas of Conservation (SAC)
- Marine Special Protected Areas (SPA)
- Coastal Areas of Special Scientific Interest (ASSI)
- Marine Conservation Zones (MCZ)
- Ramsar sites
For further information on Northern Ireland's approach to Marine Protected Areas view:
OSPAR is the mechanism by which 15 governments and the European Union work together to protect the marine environment of the North-East Atlantic. OSPAR incorporates a wide range of marine issues from work on pollution and dumping at sea to the conservation of marine biodiversity.
Under the OSPAR Marine Protected Area commitment the UK government is working to establish a well managed, ecologically coherent network. As an initial contribution to the OSPAR network most of Northern Ireland's Marine SACs have been submitted as OSPAR MPA and many of our coastal Areas of Special Scientific Interest (ASSIs) are also likely to become OSPAR MPAs to fulfill our commitment.
For further information on OSPAR MPAs view:
- Sublittoral Survey Northern Ireland (SSNI) 2006-2012
- Northern Ireland Littoral Survey (NILS) 1984-1988
- JNCC MPAs homepage
- JNCC interactive map
For further information on Northern Ireland MPAs, contact:
- Marine Conservation and Reporting team
- Assessing progress towards an ecologically coherent network of Marine Protected Areas in the Northern Ireland inshore region
- Report on the creation of a Network of Conservation Sites in the Northern Ireland Inshore Region: Progress toward establishing an ecollogically coherent network of well managed Marine Protected Areas