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OSPAR Marine Protected Areas

The OSPAR Convention represents a commitment by 15 western European governments to protect the North-east Atlantic marine environment.

OSPAR addresses a wide range of marine issues, from pollution and dumping at sea to the conservation of marine biodiversity. Our current focus at Scottish Natural Heritage in relation to OSPAR is on delivering the OSPAR Marine Protected Area (MPA) commitment.

This is the commitment made by government in 2003 to establish a well-managed, ecologically coherent network of MPAs.

OSPAR and the Scottish MPA Project

Nature Conservation MPAs (NCMPAs) designated in Scottish waters under the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 and the UK-wide Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 are helping the UK to meet the OSPAR MPA commitment.

The NCMPAs have been formally adopted as OSPAR MPAs, which contribute to the network of sites across the North-east Atlantic Ocean. The same is true of our existing marine Natura sites – marine Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and marine Special Protection Areas (SPAs).

Find out about the latest sites to join Scotland’s MPA network. You can view Scotland’s MPA network on the National Marine Plan interactive (NMPi) portal Or access further details for each MPA on SiteLink

The 30 NCMPAs designated in 2014 were identified through the Scottish MPA Project and provide protection for some of the OSPAR List of Threatened and/or Declining (T&D) Species and Habitats

You can view the known distribution of these species and habitats on the EMODnet mapping portal or via OSPAR ODIMS

OSPAR T&D Species and Habitats are also recognised as priority marine features (PMFs) in Scotland’s seas. This helps to target marine conservation action outside the MPA network.