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Conserving Marine Protected Areas

The seas around the UK cover over 700,000 km2 and are home to a rich variety of marine wildlife, but also important for many human activities. As our seas get busier, it is vital that activities are managed to ensure the safeguarding of our marine environment and the benefits it provides for future generations.

JNCC has been helping to support the identification and designation of MPAs for over ten years and has been working with marine industries, researchers and government officials to provide scientific advice on how best to conserve MPAs located in the UK’s offshore marine environment.

Producing Conservation Advice

Conservation advice forms part of the MPA cycle which helps to guide an MPA through successful monitoring, assessment and management of its protected features. Conservation advice is provided for each offshore MPA in a package of documents downloadable from JNCC’s Site Information Centres. This advice is based on best available evidence and sets out the ecological aims for the protected habitats and species within offshore MPAs. These are known as the conservation objectives which are supported by supplementary advice including site information on protected features, conservation benefits and advice on operations providing a guide on how human activities can impact the features within an offshore MPA. The components of each conservation advice package for offshore MPAs is detailed in the table below.



Background Information

Explains the purpose of the advice and when it must be referred to.

Conservation Objectives

Supplementary Advice on the Conservation Objectives (SACO)

The Conservation Objectives set out the broad ecological aims for the site. JNCC provides supplementary advice in the SACO which is essential reading to support interpretation of these conservation objectives.

You can use these documents to assess the impacts of your planned activity on the important attributes of the site.

Please note our current understanding of whether the available evidence indicates that each attribute needs to be restored or maintained is not provided here. However, links to available evidence for the site are provided and should you require further site-specific information for the site, please contact JNCC at

Conservation advice statements

These statements provide a summary of the Supplementary Advice on the Conservation Objectives (SACO).

  • Site condition presents our up-to-date understanding of the condition of features within the site;
  • Conservation benefits which the site can provide, these help you understand what is important about the site and why it needs protecting; and
  • Conservation measures which JNCC considers are needed to support achievement of the conservation objectives. These provide clarity around measures needed to support restoration or maintenance of the feature(s) within the site.

Advice on operations

Provides information on the activities capable of affecting site integrity and therefore achievement of the site’s conservation objectives.

This is a starting point for determining potential management requirements. It does not take into account the intensity, frequency or cumulative impacts from activities taking place. It is simply to advise you of the possible adverse impacts that your activity can have on a MPA’s features.

Use the advice on operations to determine those pressures your activity causes that could harm the habitat and/or species features of the site.

Conserving MPAs is key to the successful sustainable management of the marine environment. By collaborating with other agencies, industry and academics we can help further our understanding of the marine environment and make sure we protect it for the benefit of future generations.


Advising authorities on management

JNCC provides advice on proposed management measures for activities such as fisheries within offshore MPAs, and advises regulatory bodies on offshore developments and other human activities which could impact the environment.



About Marine Protected Areas

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