European Marine Sites

Click here to find out about Closed Area (European Marine Site) Byelaw

The term ‘European Marine Sites’ (EMS) collectively describes Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Special Protection Areas (SPAs) that are covered by tidal waters and protect some of our most important marine and coastal habitats and species of European importance.

Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) contain animals, plants and habitats that are considered rare, special or threatened within Europe.

Special Protection Areas (SPAs) are conservation areas concerned with the protection of important bird species. 

SACs and SPAs are designated under the EU Habitats and Birds Directives respectively and form part of the European-wide Natura 2000 network of internationally important sites. Each EU Member State has a responsibility to protect these areas.

The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has been working with stakeholders, including Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities (IFCAs), to revise the approach to the management of commercial fisheries in EMS in English inshore waters to conserve important habitats and species in line with the EU Habitats and Birds Directives.

The management of EMS will be based on the level of risk that a fishing activity presents to protected features, either habitat or species.  The priority will be given to managing the most damaging activities affecting the most vulnerable features. This is sometimes referred to as “red on red” activities. This relates to the traffic light (red, amber, green) system which Defra is using to assess activities within each EMS, where red is high risk, amber is moderate risk and green is low risk.

Defra has identified that sites with features identified as high risk should have management measures in place by the end of 2013, with those with moderate to low risk by 2016. Management measures may include codes of practice, local byelaws or national legislation. Within the 6 nautical mile limit, IFCAs will take the lead for completing this work. 

EMS interactive map
Click here to open an interactive map of the EMS within the Cornwall IFCA district, or click on the individual links below.

Within the Cornwall IFCA District there are currently (either wholly or a section of):
2 marine SACs

1 marine SPA

1 marine potential Special Protection Areas (pSPA)

3 candidate Special Areas of Conservation (cSACs)

Candidate sites are those which are awaiting designation by the UK government. Candidate sites must be given the same level of protection as fully designated sites.

Falmouth Bay to St Austell Bay potential Special Protection Area (pSPA)
Public consultation on Falmouth Bay to St Austell Bay as a potential Special Protection Area (pSPA) for overwintering seabirds.

The Falmouth Bay to St Austell Bay potential Special Protection Area (pSPA) has been recommended by Natural England for internationally important populations of overwintering divers and grebes. The bird species found here are great northern diver, black throated diver and Slavonian grebe.

Click here to download information on the three bird species.

Natural England is looking for views on the scientific case for the selection of this site as a potential SPA, as well as the likely economic and social impacts of the proposal. The consultation closes on 14 April and further information and supporting documents can be found by clicking the following link.

For more information about the national approach to fishing in EMS please visit the Marine Management Organisations website
The Cornwall IFCA Closed Areas (European Marine Sites) Byelaw links with similar byelaws from the MMO and Devon and Severn IFCA.
MMO :-
Devon and Severn IFCA:-

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