Seascape Scotland UK Mark Kirkland

Why Marine Protected Areas are important

2 minute read

Marine Protected Areas, like national parks and nature reserves on land, are set up to look after particular animals, plants and habitats at sea.

How they work

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are a globally recognised approach to halting biodiversity loss in our ocean and encouraging the recovery of marine wildlife and their habitats.

These sites can also safeguard and recover important 'blue carbon' habitats - those that absorb and store carbon - and help in our fight against climate change.

Protection of these areas takes many forms though most are designed to protect the seabed and the species and habitats that typically or naturally colonise them.

Crab on Maerl Porthkerris Cornwall England Kirsty Andrews

Crab on Maerl, Porthkerris, Cornwall

Credit: Kirsty Andrews

The road to recovery

Our MPAs are not only vast in number - there are currently 358 across UK seas – but also in scale, with 36% of UK waters now in designated protected areas.

Currently, many of the UK's MPAs are dubbed 'paper parks': their protections are little more than lines on a map. For these sites to be truly effective, they must be properly managed. This can mean banning damaging human activity from certain sites, like bottom trawling vital seabed habitats. We need governments to lead with proper regulation, controls, enforcement and monitoring.



of UK's offshore seabed Marine Protected Areas experience bottom trawling



of our carbon emissions are captured and stored by the sea

Aerial coast image enrapture captivating media

Credit: enrapture captivating media

Real, meaningful management has been put in place for MPAs including Falmouth, Cawsand Bay, Strangford Lough, Arran, Firth of Lorn and Loch Creran, with fantastic results for people and planet.

We're calling for at least 30% of the ocean to be highly or fully protected by 2030 - to give our seas the protection they need and deserve in order to recover.

What we're doing

We work alongside communities, with devolved governments and local regulators to make sure that any management measures put in place work for everyone.

You can see some examples of what we're doing, and who we work with below:

We're defending Marine Protected Areas

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Support our vital work

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