Managing fisheries in Marine Protected Areas – Management to meet Article 6 of the Habitats Directive


Defra / MMO  ‘To bring fisheries in line with other activities, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) announced on the 14 August 2012 a revised approach to managing fishing activities within European marine sites (EMS). This change in approach will promote sustainable fisheries while conserving the marine environment and resources, securing a sustainable future for both.

A Fisheries in MPAs Implementation Group was set up to manage this new approach to commercial fisheries and includes stakeholders and bodies to make sure the new approach:

  • is effective and practical
  • meets legal requirements
  • considers the effects of management measures available
  • has a suitable timetable to achieve the measures

This revised approach will be achieved on a risk-prioritised basis for sites within 12 nautical miles (nm) and will be applied to both UK and non-UK fishing vessels in accordance with EU requirements.

European marine sites (EMS) are designated to protect habitats and species in line with the European Union (EU) habitats directive and birds directive.

EMSs outside 12 nm will require legislative measures to be proposed by the European Commission in accordance with the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) to ensure adequate protection. For these sites, Defra, taking account of any relevant guidance, intends to submit proposals to the European Commission for any fishery measures needed to ensure site protection is consistent with article 6 of the habitats directive, so that appropriate regulations are in place in 2016.

Management measures have been implemented already by Marine Management Organisation byelaws and Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities (IFCA) for high risk sites. Site assessments are currently being undertaken for medium/low risk sites to ascertain whether further management is required by the end of 2016.  Marine Conservation Zones (MCZ) are Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) designed to protect nationally important habitats and species designated under the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 (MaCAA). Alongside EMSs, MCZs contribute to an ecologically coherent network of UK MPAs.

On 21 November 2013, Defra designated the first tranche of 27 MCZs

On 30 January 2015 Defra opened a consultation to seek views on whether it would be appropriate to designate each of the 23 proposed MCZs in the second tranche and to add new features for conservation in 10 of the first tranche MCZs.

More details about marine protected areas in the strategic management table.

Other documents, including minutes and information notes from meetings are available from The National Archives. To read more go to:

Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) and marine licensing

MMO: Section 126 of the Marine and Coastal Access Act (MCAA) (2009) places specific duties on the MMO relating to Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) and marine licence decision making. This is because s.126 applies where;

  • (a) a public authority has the function of determining an application (whenever made) for authorisation of the doing of an act, and
  • (b) the act is capable of affecting (other than insignificantly) –
    • (i) the protected features of an MCZ;
    • (ii) any ecological or geomorphological process on which the conservation of any protected feature of an MCZ is (wholly or in part) dependent.

In determining how to apply s.126 in undertaking its marine licensing function, the MMO is introducing a new MCZ assessment process that will be integrated into existing marine licence decision making procedures. This will apply to all new marine licence applications with immediate effect and is relevant to MCZs proposed by Defra (together with their proposed features and proposed conservation objectives) until the point of designation. From the point of designation it is the designated MCZs (together with features and conservation objectives) which will be relevant.

MCZ sites and features identified as possible candidates for designation in future tranches will be NOT be subject to the MCZ assessment process. However, the MMO will consider the evidence base associated with those sites in its decision making.

The assessment process also addresses the general duties placed on the MMO in s.125 of the MCAA with respect to furthering the conservation objectives of MCZs. To read more go to:

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