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Our work in the offshore marine environment

The UK governments have a shared vision for clean, healthy, safe, productive and biologically diverse oceans and seas.

JNCC has responsibility for nature conservation in the offshore marine environment, which begins at the edge of territorial waters and extends to the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS).  This environment supports a diverse range of benthic habitats, and many important species, including seabirds and marine mammals.  The biodiversity in the offshore environment is vital to many aspects of human well-being, such as supplying food and energy, and regulating global climate.

We play a key role in supporting government and industry to use the offshore environment sustainably, through identifying, monitoring and advising on protected areas; and by advising on the impacts of offshore industries.  Our experts have a thorough understanding of how marine ecosystems function and how they are affected by human activities.  This knowledge is crucial in understanding how UK seas can be managed to minimise long-term damage and conserve marine biodiversity and ecosystem services for future generations.  

Within territorial limits, nature conservation advice is the responsibility of the relevant country nature conservation body. We work closely with colleagues in these bodies to ensure that together we provide consistent advice.

Our areas of expertise include:

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    Provision of advice on the establishment and management of a well-managed network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in offshore waters. Our advice has led to the designation of over 50 MPAs to date.

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    Provision of clear and proportionate advice to regulators to support management of fisheries, offshore industries and other human activities.  This includes the development of guidelines, tools and analyses to evaluate impacts and provide assessments of the effects of offshore activities on biodiversity.

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    Development of evidence on the benefits derived from healthy marine ecosystems. including the role of the oceans in mitigating and adapting to climate change.

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    Monitoring and mapping the marine environment to provide evidence on marine species and habitats, which is essential for underpinning decisions on management and use of the offshore environment. 

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