OSPAR Marine Protected Areas

Lophelia pertusa reef at Hatton Bank © BERR, Defra, JNCCA key part of OSPAR's biodiversity strategy is to establish a network of marine protected areas which is both ecologically coherent and well-managed by 2010. A Marine Protected Area (MPA) as defined by OSPAR is:
"an area within the [OSPAR] maritime area for which protective, conservation, restorative or precautionary measures, consistent with international law have been instituted for the purpose of protecting and conserving species, habitats, ecosystems or ecological processes of the marine environment" (OSPAR 2003 Annex 9 A-4.44a)
This definition currently encompasses the full range of IUCN categories for marine protected areas (listed in IUCN, 1994). The MPA network is intended to contribute both to protection of OSPAR threatened species and habitats and to the conservation of areas which best represent the range of species, habitats and ecological processes in the OSPAR area. Further information on JNCC's work to map OSPAR Priority Marine Habitats is available.
OSPAR guidelines for the identification and selection of MPAs were developed and adopted in 2003, along with guidelines for the management of Marine Protected Areas in the OSPAR Maritime Area. JNCC has been closely involved in all aspects of this work, in conjunction with Defra. In particular, JNCC has led the development of a definition of an ecologically coherent network of MPAs, and a series of 14 recommendations to this end were agreed in 2004. By 2006, OSPAR (supported by the UK) had documented the key criteria for ecological coherence and a set of MPA network design principles. JNCC has subsequently developed a matrix approach to assessing the ecological coherence of the OSPAR MPA network , which will be trialled in the Channel area with other OSPAR Contracting Parties in 2009.
The UK has currently identified 63 OSPAR MPAs.
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