Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
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News Release issued by the COI News Distribution Service on 31 March 2010

Defra has today published the Government strategy to deliver a network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) across the United Kingdom.

Marine Protected Areas will be vital to protect many species of sea life, from the rare and threatened to the more common, as well as helping ensure our seas and oceans remain healthy and clean.

The strategy sets out that all UK Governments, agencies and those with an interest in protecting our seas are committed to delivering a coherent network of MPAs to meet international, EU and national commitments contained in the groundbreaking Marine and Coastal Access Act.

Launching the UK Government strategy, Marine Environment Minister, Huw Irranca-Davies, said:

“Our ‘blue’ spaces are just as important as our green spaces for our very existence. The seas and oceans help to provide us with the air we breathe, strongly affect the world’s climate and support 80 per cent of the world’s biodiversity. They need the same protection as the land. This strategy looks to the longer term, and will help to deliver a network of MPAs that will provide this protection so that we achieve our aim of a healthy, clean and vibrant marine environment.”

The network will be made up from conservation measures including:

· Marine Conservation Zones, included in the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009;

· Marine Protected Areas, designated under the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010;

· Special Areas of Conservation – a requirement of the EU Habitats Directive;

· Special Protection Areas designated under the EU Wild Birds Directive;

· Sites of Special Scientific Interest; and

· Ramsar sites which protect important wetlands.

The Strategy also sets out how MPAs will be considered in wider planning and licensing functions administered by the new Marine Management Organisation (MMO). The MMO will play an important role in helping to deliver conservation objectives and will ensure that any adverse affect on MPAs will, as far as possible be avoided.

Notes to editors

1. A copy of the strategy can be found at

2. The Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 received Royal Assent in November 2009 and came into law in January 2010. Further information on the Act can be found at

3. The area around Lundy Island became England’s first Marine Conservation Zone on 12 January 2010.

4. Natural England and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee are the statutory bodies responsible for giving advice on marine conservation matters.

5. The Welsh Assembly Government is responsible for conservation measures in territorial waters adjacent to Wales. The Scottish Government is responsible for delivering conservation measures in both territorial and offshore waters adjacent to Scotland.


Defra Press Office
Phone: 020 7238 6600

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