Guidance for the development and management of the OSPAR network

OSPAR Recommendation 2003/3 on a Network of Marine Protected Areas as amended by Recommendation 2010/2 sets out the aim of establishing the OSPAR Network of Marine Protected Areas and for the network to be ecologically coherent and well managed.

Guidance documents have been developed to support Contracting Parties in the work to establish and manage the OSPAR network of MPAs.

Guidelines for the identification and selection of Marine Protected Areas in the OSPAR Maritime Area (Agreement 2003-17) outlines the steps to be followed in identifying potential new sites and identifies the criteria which should be met. The criteria are;

Ecological criteria/considerations

  1. Threatened or declining species and habitats/biotopes
  2. Important species and habitats/biotopes
  3. Ecological significance
  4. High natural biological diversity
  5. Representativity
  6. Sensitivity
  7. Naturalness

Practical criteria/considerations

  1. Size
  2. Potential for restoration
  3. Degree of acceptance
  4. Potential for success of management measures
  5. Potential damage to the area by human activities
  6. Scientific value

The criteria can appropriately structure a nomination proforma.

Nomination proformas are developed within OSPAR for MPAs proposed for collective designation in the Area Beyond National Jurisdiction in the OSPAR maritime area. Nomination proformas are published as background documents to an OSPAR Decision to designate an MPA.

Contracting Parties can nominate new MPAs within national jurisdiction to the OSPAR MPA network through an electronic nomination procedure.

Guidance for good practice for communicating with stakeholders on the establishment & management of Marine Protected Areas (Agreement 2008-2) has been developed as an additional resource for Contracting Parties in their work.

Guidelines for the management of Marine Protected Areas in the OSPAR maritime area (Agreement 2003-18) provides an outline for management plans to be developed for the MPAs which have been included in the OSPAR network of MPAs. Guidance on developing an ecologically coherent MPA network (Agreement 2006-3) further enhanced this approach.

Assessment guidance has been developed to evaluate whether the aim of establishing an ecologically coherent and well managed network has been achieved; Guidance to assess the effectiveness of management of OSPAR MPs: a self-assessment scorecard (Agreement 2007-5), and a Background document to support the assessment of whether the OSPAR network of Marine Protected Areas is ecologically coherent. Development of the assessment methodology is ongoing, and the latest method descriptions and assessments are included in the biennial status reports on the OSPAR network of MPAs. The annually recurring data call for implementation reporting requests Contracting Parties to provide relevant information to support assessments of ecological coherence and management effectiveness of the OSPAR network of MPAs and may include additional guidance as relevant.