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Our seas contain some of the most diverse wildlife and habitats in Europe.

First published:
9 December 2020
Last updated:

We are committed to ensuring our seas are:

  • clean
  • healthy
  • safe
  • productive, and
  • biologically diverse

Marine Protected Areas (MPA) are an important way of protecting species and habitats. They will also help us to achieve Good Environmental Status in our waters, through the UK Marine Strategy.

Wales has 139 MPAs covering 69% of our inshore waters (up to 12 nautical miles). There are several types of MPAs used in Wales, which offer different levels of protection.

Some examples include:

Each MPA is underpinned by legislation. This includes Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017.

The Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) interactive map shows our MPA network.

Marine Protected Area Management

We are working closely with other groups to manage our network of MPAs, including

We take a 5 step approach to identify and manage an MPA:

  • site identification
  • threat and impact identification
  • management of the MPA
  • monitoring of the MPA
  • assessing the MPA

One way of helping us to achieve a well-managed MPA network is through the Marine Protection Area Management Action Plan. This annual document outlines key actions that will be taken by different groups. The actions deliver:

  • research projects
  • initiatives, or
  • direct action

at a site or network level.

The MPA Management Steering Group has agreed this year’s MPA Management Action Plan. The Marine Protected Area Management Annual Report reviews the progress on the previous Action Plan.

The annual ‘call for actions’ will be opened by the MPA Management Steering Group. Interested organisations should view the guidance documents.