Skip to Content

UK Marine Protected Area Datasets for Download

JNCC provides lists of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and their features, plus spatial MPA boundary layers, via the JNCC Resource Hub. Spatial data can also be explored through JNCC’s interactive map of the UK MPA network.

JNCC holds datasets for all MPAs in UK offshore waters (outward of 12 nautical miles from the coast) and datasets for some types of MPA in all UK waters (inshore and offshore). These datasets are described below. For combined datasets of UK marine and terrestrial protected areas, please visit the UK Protected Areas download webpage.

We update our MPA datasets when changes to the UK MPA network occur. If you wish to be informed when new updates are released, please sign up to our notifications.

Please email OffshoreMPAs@jncc.gov.uk if you have any queries regarding these datasets.

Offshore Marine Protected Areas

JNCC maintains a list of all offshore MPAs and their protected features (spreadsheet format) and a spatial layer of these MPA boundaries (shapefile format).

These datasets include the four MPA designation types defined in nature conservation legislation for UK offshore waters:

  • Special Areas of Conservation (SACs)
  • Special Protection Areas (SPAs)
  • Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) in England, Wales and Northern Ireland
  • Nature Conservation Marine Protected Areas in Scotland

Collectively these sites protect a mixture of habitats, species, ecological processes, and geological and geomorphological features. The datasets include sites that straddle the UK Territorial Seas (inshore/offshore) limit.

The offshore MPA spreadsheet and shapefile can be downloaded from the Resource Hub.

Further information on each offshore MPA can be found via the Site Information Centres.

Top

Special Areas of Conservation with marine components (all UK waters)

JNCC maintains datasets for all Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) with marine components in UK waters. SACs with ‘marine components’ are SACs which protect a habitat or species associated with the marine environment.

JNCC provides a list of all UK SACs with marine components and their qualifying habitat and species features (spreadsheet format) and a spatial layer of the SAC boundaries (shapefile format). The datasets include sites at different stages of designation, from candidate SACs to Sites of Community Interest and fully designated SACs. The datasets include sites that straddle the UK Territorial Seas (inshore/offshore) limt.

The SACs with marine components spreadsheet and shapefile can be downloaded from the Resource Hub.

Please note, the Country Nature Conservation Bodies (CNCBs) periodically update SAC boundaries, for example when natural features of the coastline shift position. These changes are subtle and may not result in an update to JNCC’s datasets. For the latest inshore SAC boundaries, visit the relevant CNCB webpage (see further information below on MPAs in inshore waters).

SACs are also designated for terrestrial and freshwater habitats and species. Data for these sites can be found on the UK Protected Areas download webpage.

Top

Special Protection Areas with marine components (all UK waters)

JNCC maintains datasets for all Special Protection Areas (SPAs) with marine components in UK waters. SPAs with ‘marine components’ are SPAs which protect a bird species that depends on the marine environment (such intertidal or subtidal habitats) within the site.

JNCC provides a list of all UK SPAs with marine components and their qualifying bird features (spreadsheet format) and a spatial layer of the SPA boundaries (shapefile format). These datasets include sites that straddle the UK Territorial Seas (inshore/offshore) limit.

The SPAs with marine components spreadsheet and shapefile can be downloaded from the Resource Hub.

Please note, the country nature conservation bodies (CNCBs) periodically review the qualifying bird species of inshore SPAs and update SPA boundaries, for example in light of new population counts or when natural features of the coastline shift position. JNCC’s datasets may not have been updated to reflect these changes. For the latest inshore SPA features and boundaries, visit the relevant CNCB webpage (see further information below on MPAs in inshore waters).

SPAs are also designated for terrestrial and freshwater birds. Data for these sites can be found on the UK Protected Areas download webpage.

Top

UK submission to the OSPAR MPA network

JNCC submits OSPAR MPAs to the OSPAR Commission on behalf of the UK Government and the Crown Dependencies, under the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic.

The UK has nominated Special Areas of Conservation, Special Protection Areas, Marine Conservation Zones and Nature Conservation MPAs (as described above) as OSPAR MPAs, thereby contributing to the wider MPA network in the North-East Atlantic. All UK MPAs are nominated as OSPAR MPAs unless they are awaiting formal designation or confirmation of their protected features. The Isle of Man and Bailiwick of Jersey have also nominated protected areas as OSPAR MPAs.

The UK's OSPAR MPA boundaries and attribute information are available to download from the OSPAR MPA map tool and are also available on request. OSPAR MPAs are clipped to their marine area and therefore boundaries may differ from those of underpinning UK MPAs, especially for coastal sites straddling land and sea. For the complete boundaries of UK MPAs, please refer to the boundary datasets described above. The protected features of OSPAR MPAs are identical to their underlying UK designation.

Further information on UK and other Contracting Parties’ OSPAR MPAs can be found via the OSPAR Commission online MPA database.

Top

Further information on Marine Protected Areas in inshore waters

JNCC does not hold datasets for MPAs designated in inshore waters through national legislation, such as inshore Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) and Nature Conservation MPAs designated under the Marine Acts; and Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) and Areas of Special Scientific Interest (ASSIs) designated under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (and equivalent).

Data for inshore designation types can be downloaded from the following Country Nature Conservation Bodies (CNCB) websites:

CNCB

National designations

Data portal

DAERA, Northern Ireland

MCZs and ASSIs

Digital Datasets site

Natural England

MCZs and SSSIs

Open Data Geo-portal and
Designated Sites system

Natural Resources Wales

MCZs and SSSIs

Lle Geo-portal 

Scottish Natural Heritage

NCMPAs and SSSIs

Natural Spaces gateway

The CNCBs also hold the latest data for inshore Special Areas of Conservation and Special Protection Areas.

Information and data for Ramsar sites can be found on the Ramsar webpage.

Top

Published: .

Back to top