What are Marine Protected Areas?
MPAs are areas of sea that are set up to look after particular seascapes, habitats and species, just like nature reserves and national parks on land.
Why do we need Marine Protected Areas?
Healthy seas are vitally important to all of us. So it’s crucial that communities and government are committed to using all the proven tools available to keep them healthy and full of life. Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are one of the tools governments can use to safeguard our ocean and make it more resilient to change. The network of MPAs around the UK is designed to protect the really important places that are home to rare or threatened plants and animals. It also protects an array of habitats essential to the wellbeing of both people and wildlife. Our protected area network is all about protecting the seabed as the foundation of vibrant and productive undersea and coastal communities.
MCS works hard to support designation and effective management of MPAs
All our work around MPAs is focussed on supporting establishment of MPAs that work as a tool to effectively protect marine ecosystems. Experts suggest we should be aiming for at least 30% of UK waters being effectively managed to protect key species, habitats and ecosystems. Doing this in a joined-up way will help provide what people need and deserve from a healthy ocean.
What sort of benefits will our MPA network provide?
A joined-up network of well-managed MPAs around the UK will safeguard marine communities that provide important benefits to the planet and to all of us. We believe it’s really important to reflect on the many benefits that these places provide. These include:
A group of divers from Holland are spending the next ten days exploring and cleaning wrecks at 20 locations in English and Dutch waters. The areas include some UK Marine Protected Areas following advice from MCS. The team say they want to bring the beauty, vulnerability and the litter of the North Sea to the attention of the public
Supporting a global MPA network
Our work to support effective protection beyond UK waters
To the shelf limits, Scotland has 61% of UK waters, of which 23% are now in existing or new ‘marine protected areas’
An area over 9 times the size of Wales is now in marine protected areas in the UK, but less than 1% is considered by MCS scientists to be well managed
Over 170 parliamentarians from across the political spectrum signed up to our Marine Charter calling for a network of ‘marine protected areas’ in UK Seas
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