Marine Protected Areas

Marine Protected Area (MPA) is a blanket term which covers areas of sea and coast where wildlife and habitats are protected from damage and disturbance. There are a number of different types of MPA, which result from different pieces of legislation, but all share the same basic aims. The UK has committed to establishing an ecologically coherent network of MPAs in our seas.
 
The different types of MPA are:

European Marine Sites: The term ‘European Marine Sites’ (EMS) collectively describes Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Special Protection Areas (SPAs) which are designated under the EU Habitats and Birds Directives respectively and form part of the European-wide Natura 2000 network of internationally important sites.

Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI): These are designated to protect the best examples of the UK's plants, animals or geological features. SSSI are primarily land-based, but some sites extend below the low water mark. They are set up under national legislation; SSSIs under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

Ramsar sites: These are designated under the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, agreed in Ramsar, Iran, in 1971. The Cornwall IFCA district does not contain any Ramsar sites.

Marine Conservation Zones (MCZ): MCZs protect a range of nationally important marine wildlife and different habitats and seabed features. MCZ are created under the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009.

The network of MPA enable the UK to:
 
  • Protect and restore the ecosystems in our seas and around our coasts;
  • Ensure that the species and habitats found there can thrive and are not threatened or damaged;
  • Maintain a diverse range of marine life that can be resistant to changes brought about by physical disturbance, pollution and climate change; and
  • Provide areas where the public can enjoy a healthy marine environment, learn about marine life and enjoy activities such as diving, photography, exploring rock pools and coastal walking.
 
Different MPA will have different levels of protection and different regulations and codes of practice applied to them.
 
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