As part of the implementation of the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009, and the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010, an ecologically coherent and well-managed network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), intended to conserve or improve the UK marine Environment, is being created in British Seas. The network will comprise of European Marine Sites, Sites of Special Scientific Interest, Ramsar sites and a range of national MPAs including Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) and Scottish Nature Conservation MPAs.

As part of our statutory responsibility to recommend Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in offshore areas (beyond 12 nautical miles), JNCC needs to gather information to help support these recommendations; either by searching and retrieving existing information, or through collaborative or commissioned survey.

The additional data will enable JNCC to:
  • Better determine and confirm the presence of a feature;
  • Better determine the extent of a feature within a site.
Through this survey, we may also gather evidence that provides some indication of the condition of features present.

Once these MPAs have been identified, further information gathered through survey may be required to deliver management measures and conservation advice for these areas.

On marine surveys a variety of data may be recorded using a range of instrumentation. These range from using multibeam echosounders and sidescan sonar to record the bathymetry, seabed texture and morphology through to using high resolution digital video and stills equipment to capture pictures of the seafloor.

Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) (Natura 2000)
Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) are established under the EC Habitats Directive to protect marine habitats and species of European importance. SACs with marine components are defined as those that contain qualifying marine habitats or species.

Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs)The Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 allows for the creation of a new type of Marine Protected Area (MPA), called a Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ). MCZs will protect a range of nationally important marine wildlife, habitats, geology and geomorphology.

Scottish Marine Protected Areas Scottish MPAs are established under the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 and the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 for offshore and territorial waters Nature Conservation MPAs respectively. They will be identified for the protection of nationally important marine biodiversity and geodiversity features.