Marine Protected Areas

Within OSPAR, MPAs are understood as areas for which protective, conservation, restorative or precautionary measures have been instituted for the purpose of protecting and conserving species, habitats, ecosystems or ecological processes of the marine environment.

At the Ministerial Meeting in Sintra in 1998, OSPAR Ministers agreed to promote the establishment of a network of marine protected areas and, following a period of preparatory work, the 2003 OSPAR Ministerial Meeting in Bremen adopted Recommendation 2003/3 on a network of marine protected areas with the purpose of establishing an ecologically coherent network of MPAs in the North-East Atlantic that is well managed by 2016.The OSPAR network of MPAs aims:

  • to protect, conserve and restore species, habitats and ecological processes which have been adversely affected by human activities;
  • to prevent degradation of, and damage to, species, habitats and ecological processes, following the precautionary principle;
  • to protect and conserve areas that best represent the range of species, habitats and ecological processes in the maritime area.

Figure 2: Representation of the relative protection of the OSPAR Maritime Area with a view towards reaching the CBD target to protect at least 10% of coastal and marine areas by 2020. The size of the circle is relative to the % of the area covered and the graphic presents information from 5 perspectives: OSPAR Regions (top left), different jurisdictions (top right), whole OSPAR Maritime Area (centre), benthic Dinter1 biogeographic provinces (bottom left), and pelagic Dinter biogeographic provinces (bottom right). (1) According to the classification by Dinter 2001 (Dinter, W. 2001. Biogeography of the OSPAR Maritime Area. German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation, Bonn. 167 pp).

The progress made by Contracting Parties in identifying, selecting and establishing MPAs as components of the OSPAR network is summarised in the latest progress report on the network and a map describing the network. Fuller details of the sites that Contracting Parties have reported to OSPAR are held in the OSPAR MPA database.