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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 a part of the MPA cycle which helps to guide an MPA through successful monitoring, assessment and management of its protected features so it can achieve its conservation objectives. 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 (i.e. the conservation objectives) for the protected habitats and species within offshore MPAs. Detailed advice is provided on the conservation objectives and the conservation benefits which an MPA can provide, if managed effectively. How human activities can impact the features within an offshore MPA is also set out in the advice. The components of each conservation advice package for offshore MPAs are 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. It provides further detail and site-specific information for each feature within the site, including which of the attributes need to be conserved/maintained, and which ones need to be recovered/restored.

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

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 achievement of the site’s conservation objectives.

This is a starting point for determining potential management requirements. 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. Guidance is provided to help you use the information included.

A video tutorial and Glossary of Terms are available to support users in applying the conservation advice for an offshore MPA. A background paper is also provided which fully explains the approach JNCC takes to the production of its conservation advice packages.

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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