Marine Protected Areas

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are zones of the seas and coasts where wildlife is protected from damage and disturbance. The Government is committed to establishing a well-managed ecologically coherent network of MPAs in our seas.

By linking MPAs together into a coherent network, supported by wider environmental management measures, we will promote the recovery and conservation of marine ecosystems. The network will contain MPAs of different sizes containing different habitats and species, connected through movements of adults and larvae, with a range of protection levels that are designed to meet objectives that single MPAs cannot. A well designed network is key to achieving biodiversity goals.

The UK has committed to establishing an ecologically coherent network of MPAs under several agreements including the OSPAR Convention, World Summit on Sustainable Development and Convention on Biological Diversity.

Marine Protected Areas in England

There are five designations which together will form the MPA network in England:

SPAs and SACs are together termed ‘European Marine Sites’ or ‘Natura 2000 sites’ designated under the European Habitats and Birds Directives.

  • Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)
    Although most SSSIs are on land and intertidal area there are some which extend into the marine environment below low water mark.
  • RAMSAR sites
    Protect internationally important sites for wetland birds
  • Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs)
    Protect nationally important habitats, species and geology. The Government designated 22 inshore and 5 offshore MCZs (Lundy MCZ previously designated in 2010) in November 2013. For more information about these new sites please visit JNCC’s interactive mapexternal link

See related pages for a more indepth view of Marine Conservation Zones and European Marine Sites within Northumberland.