18 July 2018

A new Marine Protected Area (MPA) proposal for seabirds crossing the Atlantic is being developed by the OSPAR Commission for the protection of the marine environment of the North-East Atlantic

The proposed MPA, around the size of France, is in part of the ocean known as an Area Beyond National Jurisdiction (ABNJ) for which no one nation has sole responsibility for management. OSPAR has the competency to designate MPAs in the ABNJ of its convention area and is now seeking views on the MPA proposal. This is the first time such a wide and inclusive process has taken place and demonstrates the importance of a regional approach to ocean governance.

The proposed area has been identified as an important foraging site for many species of seabirds through satellite tracking studies.

Susana Salvador, Executive Secretary of the OSPAR Commission said “The Desertas Petrel is an example of how important the area of the proposed MPA is to seabirds, as the bird flies halfway across the Atlantic from the islands where it breeds to forage for food and then flies back again to continue breeding”.

Some of the seabird species that forage within the proposed MPA are wide ranging and migrate across the entire Atlantic. OSPAR invites everyone with information about these seabird species to contribute to the development of the MPA proposal. OSPAR is also asking any competent authority with information on populations of seabirds or human activities that take place in the middle of the Atlantic to supply information to generate a better understanding of the proposed MPA site.

The MPA proposal, as well as information on how to contribute to this exceptional intergovernmental process, is available at

OSPAR is currently in the process of developing this new MPA proposal which, if agreed, will form a substantial contribution to the OSPAR Network of MPAs which currently comprises 465 MPAs with a total surface area of 858,890 km2 or 6.3 % of the OSPAR Maritime Area. The OSPAR Maritime Area in ABNJ currently holds 10 MPAs, covering 8.9 % of this area.


Note for editors

  1. The OSPAR Commission was set up by the 1992 OSPAR Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic, which unified and updated the 1972 Oslo and 1974 Paris Conventions. It brings together the governments of Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, together with the European Community.

2. More than 30 international non-governmental organisations are involved in OSPAR as official Observers. They represent a broad range of interests and expertise related to the marine environment and the uses of marine resources. Many contribute information, insights and standpoints. This is much appreciated feedback from civil society and the economy. The OSPAR Commission greatly values these partnerships that help inform its decisions and other results. (See list on OSPAR website at

3. More information on OSPAR’s network of MPAs can be found here and our latest summary assessment here

4. Image: Location of the [proposed] MPA within the OSPAR ABNJ and the existing network of OSPAR MPAs. [CAVEAT: the figure presents a draft of the final delineation and is subject to change