Marine Protected Areas

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are areas of the sea and coast where resources (e.g. species and habitats) are legally protected from damage and disturbance. To ensure this protection, restrictions may apply to some activities in these areas. The UK Government is committed to establishing a well-managed ecologically coherent network of MPAs each designated to meet specific conservation goals.

Types of MPAs

The main types of MPAs in English waters are:

  • European Marine Sites (EMS) also known as Natura 2000 Sites which are composed of :
  • Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) – protects habitats and species listed in the Annexes of the Habitats Directive.
  • Special Protection Areas (SPAs) – protects bird species listed in the Birds Directive.
  • Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) – Designated under the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 (MaCAA).

MPAs within the NIFCA district:

For more information on the features that are protected by each designation and the location and extent of each MPA, please click on the links above.

Some of the NIFCA coastline is also designated as RAMSAR sites, Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and National Nature Reserves (NNR).

Click HERE for an interactive map of MPAs.

NIFCA’s Role

NIFCA have a responsibility under the MaCAA to ensure the exploitation of sea fisheries resourses is carried out in a sustainable way and to ensure all the objective of the MCZs within the district are furthered.

As part of DEFRA’s Revised Approach to the Management of Commercial Fisheries in European Marine Sites, NIFCA have a legal obligation to ensure fishing activities occurring within an EMS do not have an adverse effect on the site and are managed in compliance with Article 6 of the Habitats Directive. Through the Marine and Coastal Access Act (2009) this assessment process also applies to MCZs.

As part of this process NIFCA are currently completing Habitats Regulations Assessments and MCZ assessments for all feature/gear interactions which occur within the district. This process has led to the creation of two Northumberland IFCA byelaws: Byelaw 7 (Mobile Gear) and 8 (Seagrass Protection) prohibiting/limiting the occurrence of these activities within the site and protecting designated features.

To read more about NIFCA’s fantastic work in MPAs, how we work with our partner agency Natural England, and the work of other IFCAs around the county please see our Management of Inshore Marine Protected Areas by the IFCAs 2011 to 2018.