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Report and assessment of the status of the OSPAR network of Marine Protected Areas in 2021

Executive Summary

The North-East Atlantic Environment Strategy (NEAES)1 2030 is the means by which OSPAR’s 16 Contracting Parties will implement the OSPAR Convention until 2030. It sets out collective objectives to tackle the triple challenge facing the ocean: biodiversity loss, pollution, including marine litter, and climate change. Its implementation is part of OSPAR’s contribution to the achievement of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals. The Strategy sets out the goal of OSPAR Contracting Parties to further develop the OSPAR Network of marine protected areas (MPAs) in the North-East Atlantic and to ensure that:

by 2030 the network of marine protected areas (MPAs) and other effective conservation measures (OECMs)2cover at least 30%3of the OSPAR maritime area and to ensure it is representative, ecologically coherent and effectively managed to achieve its conservation objectives.

This report aims to summarise the information made available by OSPAR Contracting Parties on their respective MPAs nominated to the OSPAR Commission and on this basis assess the progress towards overall status, management and ecological coherence of the OSPAR MPA network.

Since Contracting Parties started nominating MPAs to the OSPAR Network of MPAs in 2005, all 12 Contracting Parties bordering the North-East Atlantic have nominated sites to the OSPAR Network of MPAs in their national waters. All Contracting Parties to OSPAR have collectively designated MPAs in Areas Beyond National jurisdiction (ABNJ) of the OSPAR maritime area.

By 1 October 2021, the OSPAR Network of MPAs comprised 583 MPAs, including 8 MPAs collectively designated in ABNJ. All MPAs have a total surface area of 1 490 552 km2, covering 11,0% of the OSPAR Maritime Area. Therefore, by designating more than 10% of marine and coastal waters as MPAs, OSPAR has achieved Aichi Biodiversity target 11 of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

Since the last Status Report in 2018, 87 MPAs with a surface area of more than 625 000 km2 were added to the OSPAR network of MPAs. The new MPAs were nominated by the United Kingdom (71 MPAs), the Kingdom of Denmark (6 MPAs) and Norway (9 MPAs). Another MPA, the North Atlantic Current and Evlanov sea basin MPA (NACES) was nominated collectively in ABNJ. This MPA covers an area of 595 196 km2. The overall area covered by OSPAR MPAs of the OSPAR Maritime Area increased from 6,4% in 2018 to 11,0% in 2021.

To date, the majority of designated OSPAR MPAs are located in territorial waters, with an overall coverage of 20,9%. The area beyond the limits of national Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ), i.e. the High Seas and the Area and the Extended Continental Shelf (ECS) areas, include 19,9% covered by OSPAR MPAs. The lowest coverage of OSPAR MPAs is found in the EEZ area where 2,9% are covered by OSPAR MPAs.

OSPAR Region II, the Greater North Sea, has an MPA coverage of 20,2%. The Celtic Seas (Region III) and the Wider Atlantic (Region V) have 20,0% and 17,7% area covered by OSPAR MPAs, respectively. The MPA coverage of the Bay of Biscay and Iberian Coast (Region IV) is at 6,0% and the Arctic Waters (Region I) show the lowest coverage with 2,0%.

The application of the Madrid Criteria to the OSPAR MPA network illustrates that whilst significant progress has been made in developing the network, it cannot yet be considered to be ecologically coherent.

Since the last Status Report on the OSPAR Network of MPAs in 2018, further work was done on developing an ecologically based assessment (see 2.6) to further explore the principle of MPA network connectivity, representation and replication for OSPAR threatened and/or declining species and habitats. However, additional work is still required to develop the way in which the OSPAR MPA network is assessed for ecological coherence.

The assessment against Madrid Criterion A (a proximity analysis of MPAs as a surrogate for the OSPAR MPA network principle of connectivity) suggests that the OSPAR MPA network is nearing being considered to be well distributed in OSPAR Regions II (North Sea) and III (Celtic Seas), but there remain significant gaps in OSPAR Regions I (Arctic). In OSPAR Region V (Wider Atlantic) gaps still persist in the southwest, south, north and east and a small gap further offshore in OSPAR Region IV (Bay of Biscay and The Iberian Coast). Future work should focus on addressing these geographical gaps where possible.

The assessment against Madrid Criterion B (percentage coverage of MPAs across the Dinter biogeographic provinces) suggests that the 10%-target has been exceeded for seven of the 19 provinces; six within the Eastern Atlantic Temperate sub-region, one within the Atlantic deep-sea region. A further one exceeds 9% total surface coverage (within the Eastern Atlantic Temperate sub-region) and another one exceeds 5% (within the Barents Sea province). Four provinces have no OSPAR MPAs and a further three have less than 1% surface coverage. These provinces are predominantly to the north of the OSPAR Maritime Area.

The assessment against Madrid Criterion C (protection of OSPAR Threatened and/or Declining species and habitats within OSPAR MPAs) shows that 28 of the 58 (14 of 54 in 2018) OSPAR Threatened and/or Declining habitats and species (where recommendations are in place) are protected within more than one MPA in the OSPAR Region(s) they are considered to be under threat/subject to decline. All OSPAR Threatened and/or Declining invertebrates, eight of the nine birds, one of the two reptiles, two of the four marine mammals, four of the 21 fish and nine of the 18 habitats are considered sufficiently protected according to the requirements of Madrid criterion C.

With respect to the management status, OSPAR has made progress. 8.8 out of 10 (88%) of the OSPAR MPAs have either full or partial management information in place, which is publicly documented, a 2% increase since the 2018 Status Report. In addition, there has been an improvement in the implementation of management measures considered necessary to achieve the conservation objectives of MPAs, with partial measures increasing from 77% in 2018 to 83% in 2021. Responses to monitoring programmes have shown a similar trend between 2018 and 2021. Progress towards achieving conservation objectives has also taken place since 2018, with an increase of 4% (18% in 2021) responding with a yes to this question. In 2021, Contracting Parties were asked to provide an estimation of their confidence in their response. 6% of OSPAR MPAs are considered to have high confidence scores in their responses to this question, 32% to have moderate and 19% to have low confidence scores. However, in 2021 a high proportion of ‘unknown’ responses (30% compared to 28% in 2018) as to whether the protected features of OSPAR MPAs are moving towards their conservation objectives still remains, largely due to the lack of site-specific data on the ecological status of the protected features of the MPAs.

Future OSPAR work should focus on implementing the management measures considered necessary to achieve the conservation objectives of the protected features of the MPAs. In parallel, there is a need for long-term monitoring programmes to be established to evaluate the effectiveness of such management measures to conclude with greater confidence on whether the conservation objectives of the protected features of OSPAR MPAs are being achieved. In addition, work should progress on improving methods of evaluating the degree to which the OSPAR MPA network is well-managed to support a more sophisticated assessment as to whether or not the OSPAR MPA network is delivering a genuine conservation benefit to targeted habitats, species and ecological processes.

For OSPAR MPAs in ABNJ, there should be continued effort to further the collective arrangement and cooperate through e.g., Memorandums of Understanding with relevant competent management authorities, so that they can consider appropriate management actions to help deliver the conservation objectives for OSPAR MPAs in ABNJ. Contracting Parties should continue to raise awareness of OSPAR MPAs in ABNJ with relevant stakeholders and interest groups and look to further our scientific understanding of these sites.

Background

The OSPAR Convention Annex V on the Protection and Conservation of Ecosystems and Biological Diversity of the Maritime Area Article 2a sets out that Contracting Parties to the Convention shall take the necessary measures to protect and conserve the ecosystems and the biological diversity of the maritime area, and to restore, where practicable, marine areas which have been adversely affected.

The Sintra Ministerial Statement, adopted at the meeting of the OSPAR Commission in Sintra, Portugal (22-23 July 1998), included the commitment that the OSPAR Commission will promote the establishment of a network of MPAs to ensure the sustainable use, protection and conservation of marine biological diversity and its ecosystems.

This process has been enhanced by the Bremen Ministerial Statement, adopted at the first Joint Ministerial Meeting of the Helsinki and OSPAR Commissions in Bremen, Germany (25-26 June 2003), as it established the commitment to complete by 2010 a joint network of well-managed MPAs that, together with the Natura 2000 network, is ecologically coherent.

The aims of the OSPAR Network of MPAs have been set out as:

  • 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; and
  • to protect and conserve areas that best represent the range of species, habitats and ecological processes in the maritime area.

OSPAR Recommendation 2003/03 sets out that in the years subsequent to 2005, OSPAR Contracting Parties should report by 31 December to the OSPAR Commission on any OSPAR MPAs that they have selected (or deselected) and on any corresponding management plans that they have adopted or substantially amended in that year. In 2006, the OSPAR Biodiversity Committee (BDC) agreed that annual reports on the status of the OSPAR Network of MPAs should be prepared in the period up to 2010.

As the target had not been reached in 2010, the OSPAR Ministerial Meeting in Bergen, Norway (20-24 September 2010) adopted a consolidated version of Recommendation 2003/03 (amended by OSPAR Recommendation 2010/02) including renewed targets,i.e. to continue the establishment of the OSPAR Network of Marine Protected Areas in the North-East Atlantic and to ensure that:

a.    by 2012 it is ecologically coherent, includes sites representative of all biogeographic regions in the OSPAR Maritime Area, and is consistent with the CBD target for effectively conserved marine and coastal ecological regions;
b.    by 2016 it is well managed (i.e. coherent management measures have been set up and are being implemented for such MPAs that have been designated up to 2010).

OSPAR Contracting Parties therefore agreed to continue with the preparation of annual reports with a view to track progress as well as any shortcomings with regards to the targets that have been set by the OSPAR Commission for the OSPAR Network of MPAs.

At the 2013 OSPAR Commission meeting in Gothenburg, Sweden (24-28 June 2013) OSPAR Contracting Parties agreed that the Status Report of the OSPAR Network of MPAs will be produced every two years. The deadline for new nominations and for reporting was set to 1 October.

At the OSPAR Ministerial Meeting in Cascais, Portugal (1 October 2021), Contracting Parties agreed to further expand the OSPAR network of MPAs and other effective area-based conservation measures (OECMs) to cover at least 30% of the whole OSPAR maritime area by 2030, which is over 4 million km2. The North-East Atlantic Environment Strategy (NEAES) 2030 sets out inter alia OSPAR’s strategic objective S5.01. which states that:

  • By 2030 OSPAR will further develop its network of marine protected areas (MPAs) and other effective area-based conservation measures (OECMs) to cover at least 30% of the OSPAR maritime area to ensure it is representative, ecologically coherent and effectively managed to achieve its conservation objectives.

This document presents the 12th Status Report on the OSPAR Network of MPAs taking into account all MPAs that have either been nominated by Contracting Parties within their respective national waters or established collectively by the OSPAR Commission in ABNJ of the OSPAR maritime area until 1 October 2021.

Sources of data and information on OSPAR MPAs

The analysis of the OSPAR Network of MPAs is based upon information that has been provided by the Contracting Parties in the process of nominating MPAs to the OSPAR Commission and completing annual implementation reporting. In 2021 the annual data call included voluntary components, including reporting information on management status, OECMs and non-OSPAR MPAs.

Data for analyses were gathered from the OSPAR Database of MPAs which is co-administered by the French Agence des Aires Marines Protégées (AAMP) and the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN).

All calculations were made with reference only to the OSPAR Maritime Area as defined in the OSPAR Convention, excluding overseas territories and territories of Contracting Parties in the Baltic and Mediterranean Seas.

All figures, tables and maps in this report provide information on the OSPAR Network of MPAs as of 1 October 2021.

1. Status of the OSPAR Network of MPAs

By 1 October 2021, the OSPAR Network of MPAs comprises 583 MPAs (Figure 1.1) including 572 MPAs situated within national waters of Contracting Parties and 11 MPAs situated in areas beyond the limits of national EEZs with different jurisdictional regimes4 . In total, OSPAR MPAs cover an area of 1 490 552 km2, which equals 11,0% of the OSPAR Maritime Area. This represents an increase by 626 215 km², or 4,6%, compared to 2018.

Figure 1.1.  OSPAR Network of MPAs (as of 1 October 2021)⁵.

Figure 1.1. OSPAR Network of MPAs (as of 1 October 2021)⁵.

1.1 OSPAR MPAs under National Jurisdiction

1.1.1 Distribution of OSPAR MPAs in the national waters of Contracting Parties

From 2005 until 2021, OSPAR Contracting Parties have nominated a total of 572 OSPAR MPAs within their respective national waters6 , i.e., territorial waters and EEZs (Figure 1.2).

Figure 1.2: OSPAR MPAs and boundaries of the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) and Extended Continental Shelves (as submitted to UN CLCS) of OSPAR Contracting Parties (as of 1 October 2021)⁷.

Figure 1.2: OSPAR MPAs and boundaries of the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) and Extended Continental Shelves (as submitted to UN CLCS) of OSPAR Contracting Parties (as of 1 October 2021)⁷.

The contributions by Contracting Parties regarding the number of MPAs, their coverage and distribution in their national waters differ substantially. Table 1.1 shows the number of MPAs per Contracting Party and the area coverage.

Table 1.1: Number and coverage of OSPAR MPAs in Territorial Waters (TW), the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and in areas beyond the limits of national EEZs (beyond EEZ), i.e. the High Seas, the Area, and ECS areas (as of 1 October 2021)8

OSPAR

Contracting Party

No. of

OSPAR MPAs

MPA coverage [km2]

TW

EEZ

beyond EEZ

Total

Belgium

2

806

433

n.a.

1 239

Denmark

40

7 098

5 778

n.a.

12 876

France

39

15 822

6 280

n.a.

22 102

Germany

6

9 647

7 921

n.a.

17 595

Iceland

14

90

476

n.a.

566

Ireland

19

1 594

2 542

n.a.

4 135

Netherlands

5

2 434

5 937

n.a.

8 371

Norway

30

84 885

2 667

n.a.

87 551

Portugal

139

1 556

4 656

22

6 234

Spain

15

8 311

19 300

n.a.

27 610

Sweden

10

1 114

1 371

n.a.

2 485

United Kingdom

38210

73 935

147 106

17 158

238 200

All Contracting Parties

811

n.a.

n.a.

 1 060 361

1 060 361

Total

583

207 317

204 467

1 077 541

1 490 55212

 

Further aspects regarding the distribution of OSPAR MPAs across the national waters (territorial waters and EEZ) of Contracting Parties are highlighted in Figure 1.313, illustrated against the 10% target outlined in Aichi Target 11 of the Convention on Biological Diversity and the new 30% target for 2030 as established in the OSPAR North-East Atlantic Environment Strategy 2030. For each CP14 , the relative coverage (in %) of OSPAR MPAs in its territorial waters, the EEZ and overall in its national waters (blue/purple/green, respectively) is shown.

Figure 1.3: MPA coverage in the national waters of Contracting Parties, comprising territorial waters and EEZ¹⁵ as well as MPA coverage in territorial waters and EEZ separately (as of 1 October 2021).

Figure 1.3: MPA coverage in the national waters of Contracting Parties, comprising territorial waters and EEZ¹⁵ as well as MPA coverage in territorial waters and EEZ separately (as of 1 October 2021).

Overall, there is a good coverage of coastal waters with about 20,9%16 (207 317 km²) of the territorial waters of OSPAR Contracting Parties being designated within OSPAR MPAs. This is mainly a result of extensive MPAs designated in OSPAR Regions II (Greater North Sea) and III (Celtic Seas) and around the Svalbard archipelago in Region I (Arctic Waters). In addition, 19,9% (1 077 541 km²) of the area beyond the limits of national EEZs, i.e., the High Seas, the Area and the ECS areas, are currently covered by OSPAR MPAs.

However, as illustrated above, there continue to be differences with respect to the overall distribution of OSPAR MPAs across the OSPAR Maritime Area, with a bias towards near-shore sites. Compared to territorial waters and areas beyond the limits of EEZs, far fewer MPAs have been designated in the Exclusive Economic Zones, covering 2,9% (204 467 km²) of all EEZs in the OSPAR Maritime Area.

1.1.2 Distribution of OSPAR MPAs across OSPAR Regions

The distribution of OSPAR MPAs across the five OSPAR Regions, i.e., Arctic Waters (Region I), Greater North Sea (Region II), Celtic Seas (Region III), Bay of Biscay and Iberian Coast (Region IV) and Wider Atlantic (Region V), is shown in Figure 1.4, with details on each OSPAR Region provided in Figure 1.5a and Figure 1.5b.

Figure 1.4: Distribution of OSPAR MPAs across OSPAR Regions (as of 1 October 2021).

Figure 1.4: Distribution of OSPAR MPAs across OSPAR Regions (as of 1 October 2021).

Figure 1.5a: OSPAR MPAs across OSPAR Regions (I – Arctic Waters; II – Greater North Sea; III – Celtic Seas (as of 1 October 2021)).

Figure 1.5a: OSPAR MPAs across OSPAR Regions (I – Arctic Waters; II – Greater North Sea; III – Celtic Seas (as of 1 October 2021)).

Figure 1.5b: OSPAR MPAs across OSPAR Regions (IV – Bay of Biscay and Iberian Coast; V – Wider Atlantic (as of 1 October 2021)).

Figure 1.5b: OSPAR MPAs across OSPAR Regions (IV – Bay of Biscay and Iberian Coast; V – Wider Atlantic (as of 1 October 2021)).

The spatial coverage by OSPAR MPAs differs substantially between the OSPAR Regions (Figure 1.6 and Table 1.2). The Greater North Sea (OSPAR Region II) has the most bordering Contracting Parties of all OSPAR Regions and all have contributed MPAs to the network. The MPAs nominated by Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, cover 20,2% (154 712 km2) of the Greater North Sea.

In the Celtic Seas (OSPAR Region III) 20,0% (73 409 km2) are protected by OSPAR MPAs, nominated by Ireland, the UK and France. In the Wider Atlantic (OSPAR Region V) 17,7% of the area is covered by OSPAR MPAs (1 122 282 km2). This region comprises MPAs nominated by Portugal, Ireland, and the UK. While the coverage of this Region by MPAs within national jurisdiction remains low, the collective establishment by all OSPAR Contracting Parties of the eight MPAs in ABNJ in 2010, 2012 and 2021, as well as the three MPA nominations by Portugal and the United Kingdom in areas that are subject to their respective submission to the UN CLCS for an ECS have substantially increased the area coverage of the MPA network in this Region17 .

The three OSPAR Regions (II, III and V) currently achieve the CBD Aichi Target 1118, i.e., to protect at least 10% of the coastal and marine areas by 2020. Only Regions II and III had achieved the target at the time of the 2018 Status Report on OSPAR MPAs, showing good progress being made for Region V - Wider Atlantic.

The Bay of Biscay and Iberian Coast (OSPAR Region IV) encompass a number of MPAs nominated by its three bordering Contracting Parties of France, Portugal and Spain. Altogether, 6,0% (32 299 km2) of this Region are covered by the OSPAR Network of MPAs.

The Arctic Waters (Region I) show the lowest MPA coverage with 2,0% (107 846 km2) falling within OSPAR MPAs. This coverage is almost entirely due to the designation of two extensive sites around the Svalbard archipelago, namely Svalbard West, Svalbard East (Norway), the MPA site Jan Mayen (Norway) and the MPA North-East Faroe-Shetland Channel (United Kingdom).

Figure 1.6: Spatial coverage (%) by OSPAR MPAs of the five OSPAR Regions (as of 1 October 2021).

Figure 1.6: Spatial coverage (%) by OSPAR MPAs of the five OSPAR Regions (as of 1 October 2021).

Irrespective of apparent regional differences in the spatial coverage by MPAs, OSPAR has achieved the CBD Aichi Target 11 of designating 10% of marine waters as MPAs (Table 1.2), which was not met in 2018.

Table 1.2: Absolute (km²) and the relative (%) coverage of the five OSPAR Regions by OSPAR MPAs (as of 1 October 2021)

OSPAR Region

Total Area

Protected Area by OSPAR MPAs

[km²]

[km²]

[%]

I

Arctic Waters

5 529 716

107 846

2,0

II

Greater North Sea

766 624

154 712

20, 2

III

Celtic Seas

366 459

73 409

20,0

IV

Bay of Biscay and Iberian Coast

539 153

32 299

6,0

V

Wider Atlantic

6 346 159

1 122 282

17,7

OSPAR Maritime Area

13 548 111

1 489 754

11,0

1.2 OSPAR MPAs in areas beyond the limits of national EEZs

1.2.1 Background

The OSPAR Maritime Area encompasses extensive areas in the Wider Atlantic (OSPAR Region V) and the Arctic Waters (OSPAR Region I) that are beyond the limits of national Exclusive Economic Zones. This Area Beyond National Jurisdiction (ABNJ) covers approximately 40% of the OSPAR Maritime Area (see Annex III Figure 1). In the context of this report ABNJ encompasses the High Seas meaning the oceanic water column, the Area referring to the seafloor managed by UN International Seabed Authority, and submission by countries of continental shelf claim areas to the UN CLCS for an Extended Continental Shelf (ECS).

In recent years, the protection of the marine environment and biodiversity in ABNJ has attracted great attention at the global level, in particular in the context of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), the legal framework established by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). OSPAR has in this context assumed a pioneering role as a regional organisation to protect marine ecosystems and biodiversity in ABNJ and provided examples of an operational approach in designating and managing MPAs.

Being aware of the shared responsibilities and the need for a collaborative approach in ABNJ, OSPAR has aimed at strengthening mutual exchange and cooperation with the various relevant international competent authorities responsible for the management of specific human activities in ABNJ, including the North-East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC), the International Seabed Authority (ISA), and the International Maritime Organization (IMO). The adoption of the collective arrangement19 by OSPAR (OSPAR Agreement 2014-09) and NEAFC on cooperation and coordination regarding selected areas in ABNJ in the North-East Atlantic in 2014 represents a significant step forward in this process (see also Chapter 2). The essential aim of the collective arrangement is to become a collective and multilateral forum composed of all competent entities addressing the management of human activities in ABNJ.

By the end of 2021 the OSPAR Network of MPAs comprised 11 MPAs situated in areas beyond the limits of national EEZs (Figure 1.7). It should be noted that the twelfth MPA, North-West Rockall SAC (SAC - Special Area of Conservation), occurs partly within the EEZ and partly within the ECS of the UK. This MPA has been assigned to the UK national waters category in terms of number and area coverage and is only noted here for comprehensiveness.

The process of the establishment and nomination of MPAs in ABNJ is elaborated in the following sections as well as in Annex I and III.

Figure 1.7: OSPAR MPAs in areas beyond the limits of national EEZs (as of 1 October 2021)²⁰.The colour category is intended to visualise the jurisdictional groupings of ABJN MPAs as in section 1.2.3. It should be noted that North-West Rockall SAC is mainly located in EEZ area and is included in the figure for the sake of comprehensiveness and clarity.

Figure 1.7: OSPAR MPAs in areas beyond the limits of national EEZs (as of 1 October 2021)²⁰.The colour category is intended to visualise the jurisdictional groupings of ABJN MPAs as in section 1.2.3. It should be noted that North-West Rockall SAC is mainly located in EEZ area and is included in the figure for the sake of comprehensiveness and clarity.

1.2.2 Establishment and nomination of OSPAR MPAs in areas beyond the limits of national EEZs

A national OSPAR MPA nominated by Portugal in an area subject to a submission for an ECS

In 2006, and in response to a proposal previously prepared by WWF, Portugal formally nominated the Rainbow Hydrothermal Vent Field as an MPA to the OSPAR Network of MPAs. While this MPA had originally been considered to be situated in ABNJ, Portugal considered the site to be situated on its ECS,i.e., the natural submerged prolongation of the landmasses of the Azores Archipelago. While the case is still pending, Portugal recognised its obligations under UNCLOS Article 192 to protect and preserve the marine environment, as well as the precautionary principle, and assumed responsibility for protecting the seabed and the subsoil even prior to the final conclusion of the UN CLCS on the ECS claims by Portugal. It has to be noted that this MPA encompasses only the seabed with no scientific case to extend the MPA to the water column.

OSPAR MPAs established collectively by all Contracting Parties in ABNJ

At the OSPAR Ministerial Meeting in 2010 (20-24 September, Bergen/Norway) six proposals for OSPAR MPAs in ABNJ were presented for adoption. The historical process of the elaboration of these proposals, including the collation and review of scientific information and data, the preparation of legal feasibility studies and consultations amongst Contracting Parties, is presented in Annex III. Taking into account the complex situation regarding the jurisdiction over these areas, the OSPAR Commission finally decided to collectively establish following MPAs in ABNJ of the North-East Atlantic:    

Charlie-Gibbs South MPA   146 032 km²
Mid-Atlantic Ridge north of the Azores High Seas MPA  93 570 km²
Milne Seamount Complex MPA20 914 km²
Josephine Seamount High Seas MPA19 363 km²
Altair Seamount High Seas MPA 4 384 km²
Antialtair High Seas MPA2 807 km²

                                                  

At the OSPAR Commission Meeting in 2012 (25-29 June 2012; Bonn/Germany) Contracting Parties further agreed to collectively establish the following MPA in the High Seas of the OSPAR Maritime Area:

Charlie-Gibbs North High Sea MPA  178 094 km²

           

At the OSPAR Ministerial Meeting in 2021 (1 October, Cascais/Portugal) Contracting Parties further agreed to collectively establish the following MPA in the ABNJ of the OSPAR Maritime Area:

North Atlantic Current and Evlanov Sea basin MPA21595 196 km2

 

The collectively designated MPAs in the ABNJ of the OSPAR Maritime Area are designated through a legally binding OSPAR Decision. For each MPA an OSPAR Recommendation outlines the management actions to be taken by Contracting Parties. The basis for the nomination is a technical nomination proforma which collates evidence against the agreed selection criteria outlined in the Guidelines for the Identification and Selection of Marine Protected Areas in the OSPAR Maritime Area (Agreement 2003 17) and published as a Background Document. The nomination proforma undergoes the General consultation procedures for establishing Marine Protected Areas in Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction of the OSPAR Maritime Area (Agreement 2019-09) before adoption. Table 1.3 provides a summary of the collectively designated ABNJ MPAs and their respective management documents.

Table 1.3: Overview of the collectively designated OSPAR MPAs in ABNJ of the OSPAR Maritime Area proving hyperlinks to their respective management documents.

OSPAR Marine Protected Area

OSPAR Decision on designation

OSPAR Recommendation on management

Nomination proforma/Background document

Milne Seamount Complex MPA

Decision 2010/01

Recommendation 2010/12

Publication 524

Charlie-Gibbs South MPA

Decision 2010/02

Recommendation 2010/13

Publication 523 (fracture-zone)

Altair Seamount High Seas MPA

Decision 2010/03

Recommendation 2010/14

Publication 549

Antialtair Seamount High Seas MPA

Decision 2010/04

Recommendation 2010/15

Publication 550

Josephine Seamount High Seas MPA

Decision 2010/05

Recommendation 2010/16

Publication 551

Mid-Atlantic Ridge North of the Azores High Seas MPA

Decision 2010/06

Recommendation 2010/17

Publication 552

Charlie-Gibbs North High Seas MPA

Decision 2012/01

Recommendation 2012/01

Publication 560

North Atlantic Current and Evlanov Sea basin MPA

Decision 2021/01

Recommendation 2021/01

Publication 771

National OSPAR MPAs nominated by the United Kingdom in areas subject to a submission for an ECS

In 2011, the United Kingdom nominated North-West Rockall SAC as an OSPAR MPA, of which parts (covering 181 km²) are extending beyond their EEZ into an area subject to a submission by the UK to the UN CLCS for an ECS. The seabed and subsoil of this site is protected by the UK, while the water column remains unprotected.

In 2012 and 2014, the United Kingdom nominated two more OSPAR MPAs (Hatton Bank SAC and Hatton-Rockall Basin MPA, respectively) entirely located in an area subject to a submission by the UK to the UN CLCS for an ECS22. The seabed and subsoil of these sites are protected by the UK, while the water column remains unprotected.

1.2.3 Jurisdiction of OSPAR MPAs in areas beyond the limits of national EEZs

The 11 OSPAR MPAs nominated up to 1 October 2021 in areas beyond the limits of national EEZs of Contracting Parties, i.e., the High Seas, the Area, and ECS areas, can be grouped into different categories with regard to their jurisdictional regime:

1) Charlie-Gibbs South MPA, Milne Seamount Complex MPA and North Atlantic Current and Evlanov Sea basin MPA

These three MPAs are situated entirely in ABNJ. In the Charlie-Gibbs South MPA and the Milne Seamount Complex MPA the seabed, the subsoil and the water column are protected collectively by all OSPAR Contracting Parties. In the North Atlantic Current and Evlanov Sea basin MPA the water column is collectively protected by all OSPAR Contracting Parties, while the seabed remains unprotected (but noting complementary protections under NEAFC described at 3.8). The OSPAR Ministerial Meeting 2021 also agreed a Roadmap for further development of the North Atlantic Current and Evlanov Sea basin Marine Protected Area (OSPAR Agreement 2021-08).

2) Mid-Atlantic Ridge north of the Azores High Seas MPA, Altair Seamount High Seas MPA, Antialtair High Seas MPA and Josephine Seamount Complex High Seas MPA

These four MPAs are situated within an area subject to a submission by Portugal to the UN CLCS for an ECS. Portugal has expressed the intention to assume the responsibility to take measures for the protection of the seabed and the subsoil within these areas. Upon invitation by Portugal, the OSPAR Commission agreed to collectively protect the water column of these MPAs.

3) Charlie-Gibbs North High Seas MPA

This MPA is partly situated within an area subject to a submission by Iceland to the UN CLCS for an ECS. The water column is protected collectively by all Contracting Parties. The seabed and the subsoil remain unprotected.

4) Rainbow Hydrothermal Vent Field, Hatton Bank SAC and Hatton-Rockall Basin

These MPAs are situated within areas subject to a submission by a CP to the UN CLCS for an ECS. The seabed and subsoil of these sites are protected by the respective CP, while the water column remains unprotected.

1.3 Other Effective area-based Conservation Measures

OSPAR MPAs are an important tool for protecting the North-East Atlantic and its biodiversity. Besides OSPAR MPAs, however, Other Effective area-based Conservation Measures (OECMs) may also contribute to the protection of marine biodiversity. In 2020 OSPAR agreed on the OECM definition as adopted by the UN Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD, COP 14) in November 2018 which specifies an OECM as:

‘a geographically defined area other than a Protected Area, which is governed and managed in ways that achieve positive and sustained long-term outcomes for the in-situ conservation of biodiversity, with associated ecosystem functions and services and where applicable, cultural, spiritual, socio–economic, and other locally relevant value’23.

Other Effective area-based Conservation Measures which meet these criteria can contribute to ecologically representative and well-connected MPA networks. They can protect important ecosystems, support the recovery of threatened and/or declining species and habitats and enhance resilience against threats. Recognition of OECMs as a potential contribution to the protection of marine biodiversity further provides the opportunity to engage with important stakeholders that have previously not been involved. However, there are still outstanding issues with respect to inter alia the longevity of OECMs and how to assure their effectiveness in protecting marine biodiversity. It is important to note, that while (OSPAR) MPAs must have a primary conservation objective, this is not the case for OECMs. Nonetheless, to be considered as an OECM a management regime in a clearly defined area must be in place that ensures effective biodiversity conservation in the long-term.

In 2021 Contracting-Parties to OSPAR were invited to voluntarily provide information about OECMs in their national waters. However, most Contracting-Parties have not yet developed a final view on OECMs nationally and therefore did not report any OECMs in their national waters. The information provided in the following should thus be seen as a pilot assessment on OECMs in the OSPAR Maritime Area to identify and capture information on all possible existing spatial measures which could have conservation benefits. OECMs nominated by Contracting-Parties in their national waters include inter alia areas where seasonal restrictions on the use of active systems intended for underwater exploration activities, whale watching and specific measures on fisheries regulation are in place which are assumed to support conservation of e. g., killer whales. Other examples comprise areas of fisheries restrictions, including measures to protect blue ling, sandeels and horse mussel beds (see Table 1.4). Most of these OECMs were considered to be in place over a longer period but monitoring to ensure positive conservation outcomes for biodiversity were mostly missing. As a consequence, if and to what extend these areas contribute to the achievement of positive and sustained long-term outcomes for the in-situ conservation of biodiversity remains largely unknown.

Despite uncertainties with respect to their contribution to the protection of biodiversity in the North-East Atlantic and different national approaches, OECMs may fulfil expectations regarding their role as a complementary area-based measure to the OSPAR MPA network by prohibition of human activities. In particular, in Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (ABNJ) where management of various human activities is difficult due to limited legal mechanisms or processes for conserving marine biodiversity and governance gaps - even though OSPAR has a pioneering role as a regional organisation to protect marine ecosystems and biodiversity in ABNJ and provided good examples of an operational approach in designating and managing MPAs - OECMs may significantly support the effective in-situ conservation of biodiversity in this huge area which covers approximately 40% of the OSPAR Maritime Area. Therefore, continued effort should be made to further the Collective Arrangement with NEAFC and cooperate with other relevant competent management authorities to identify and assess potential OECMs in ABNJ.

Efforts are needed to thoroughly evaluate the potential role of OECMs for the conservation of marine biodiversity and future work should focus on developing a common understanding of the applicability of the OECM criteria to the specific situation in the North-East Atlantic. In addition, there is a need for ecological monitoring programmes to be established to ensure the contribution of such area-based measures to the long-term conservation of marine biodiversity of the OSPAR Maritime Area.

Table 1.4: Overview of OECMs nominated by Contracting Parties.

Contracting Party

Name of OECM

Feature(s) protected

Means of protection

Long-term outlook

Brief overall justification for OECM nomination

Spain

Critical Area for Orcas

Orcinus orca

Seasonal restriction on the use of active systems intended for underwater exploration or underground (both by means of probes, compressed air or controlled explosions and by means of underground drilling), seasonal restriction of whale watching and specific measures on fisheries regulation, monitoring of pollution sources and enhancement of research

Measures have been in place since May 2017 and they will be applicable indefinitely until conservation status of the species improves. Its results are to be assessed every 3 years.

These measures could also be beneficial for other species (Phocoena phocoena and Caretta caretta for example). This critical area overlaps partially with an OSPAR MPA/SPA for birds, named "Espacio Marino de la Bahía de Cádiz", this MPA is much smaller (36.13 Km2)

United Kingdom

Blue Ling West of Scotland

Molva dypterygia

From 1 March to 31 May each year, directed fishing for blue ling is prohibited. A by-catch of blue ling up to a threshold of 6 tonnes may be retained on board and landed.

It is thought that this measure is likely to persist in the longer-term.

The fisheries management measures in place are considered, in principle, to afford biodiversity conservation benefits to blue ling within the OECM area.

United Kingdom

Closed Area Sea Fisheries Order 2012 No. 2571

Modiolus modiolusbeds

Fishing for sea fish using bottom towed fishing gear is prohibited.

Measures have been in place since 2012. It is thought that this measure is likely to persist in the longer-term.

The fisheries management measures in place are considered, in principle, to afford biodiversity conservation benefits to Modiolus modiolus beds within the OECM area.

United Kingdom

East Coast of Scotland (Sandeels) Closure

Rissa tridactyla
Ammodytes marinus
Ammodytes tobianus

Fishing for sandeel with any towed gear with a mesh size of less than 32 mm is prohibited. Fisheries for scientific investigation are allowed in order to monitor the sandeel stock in the area and the effects of the closure.

It is thought that this measure is likely to persist in the longer-term. No re-opening criteria have been established

The fisheries management measures in place are considered, in principle, to afford biodiversity conservation benefits to Rissa tridactyla, Ammodytes marinusand
Ammodytes tobianus within the OECM area.

United Kingdom

Irish Sea Cod Box

Gadus morhua

From 14 February to 30 April each year, fishing with any demersal trawl, seine or similar towed net, any gillnet, entangling net or trammel net or any fishing gear incorporating hooks is prohibited. A derogation exists for demersal trawls provided such trawls are fitted with selective devices that have been assessed by STECF of the European Commission.

It is thought that this measure is likely to persist in the longer-term.

The fisheries management measures in place are considered, in principle, to afford biodiversity conservation benefits to cod within the OECM area.

United Kingdom

Rosemary Bank (Blue Ling)

Molva dypterygia

From 1 March to 31 May each year, directed fishing for blue ling is prohibited. A by-catch of blue ling up to a threshold of 6 tonnes may be retained on board and landed.
Council Regulation (EU) 2019/1241: Annex VI (North Western Waters), Part C, Article 6 & Annex XII (NEAFC Regulatory Area)

It is thought that this measure is likely to persist in the longer-term.

The fisheries management measures in place are considered, in principle, to afford biodiversity conservation benefits to blue ling within the OECM area.

United Kingdom

West Rockall Mound

A6.1 Deep-sea rock and artificial hard substrata
A6.2 Deep-sea mixed substrata
A6.4 Deep-sea muddy sand
A6.5 Deep-sea mud

Prohibited to conduct bottom trawling and fishing with static gear, including bottom set gillnets and bottom set longlines.
Council Regulation (EU) 2019/1241: Annex XII (NEAFC Regulatory Area)

It is thought that this measure is likely to persist in the longer-term.

The fisheries management measures in place are considered, in principle, to afford biodiversity conservation benefits to a range of broadscale seabed habitats within the OECM area.

1.4 Socio-economic benefits of MPAs

MPAs are generally designated to safeguard biodiversity, maintain marine ecosystem health, supply ecosystem services, and consequently to provide benefits for the society as a whole. Understanding and assessing the benefits of MPAs and how they can be quantified may contribute to informing decision-making by monetising the added value provided by MPAs as well as to increasing public acceptance of MPAs. Several methods have already been developed to estimate the benefits of MPAs, each with its own limitations. However, detailed knowledge on the site-specific benefits is often missing since it is a challenging task to generate this information. Therefore, OSPAR has recently aimed to explore how to improve knowledge generation and started an exchange on method developments. A study on the potential benefits of MPAs and how they can be represented and used in socio-economic analyses24, applying an eco-point approach, highlighted that the exact links between biodiversity and other benefits are yet poorly understood. In most cases sufficient data to perform cost-benefit analyses are lacking due to missing long-term ecological monitoring programmes. In addition, a lack of understanding about the pristine state of an area impedes valuating current area quality.

MPAs produce a variety of benefits through an increase in biodiversity, but the extent to which these benefits can be expected differ substantially between MPAs and are inter alia depending on MPA characteristics such as the level of protection and the presence of no-take areas which will most likely boost biodiversity. Connectivity of MPAs on the network level also needs to be considered to allow for a more accurate assessment of the importance of an MPA for a particular species or habitat and the benefits it provides. In summary, the high complexity of marine ecosystems and their diversity along with knowledge gaps on the current ecological status led to considerable uncertainties in quantifying benefits of MPAs and as a consequence, it was proposed to focus on the use of qualitative approaches for the time being. Nonetheless, efforts should be made to improve monitoring of MPAs to facilitate cost-benefit analyses of MPAs in the future.

2 Ecological coherence of the OSPAR MPA network

2.1 Background

At the 2010 OSPAR Ministerial Meeting in Bergen, Norway, OSPAR Ministers committed to ensuring that by 201225 the OSPAR Network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) is ecologically coherent, includes sites representative of all biogeographic regions in the OSPAR Maritime Area, and is consistent with the Convention on Biological Diversity target for effectively conserved marine and coastal ecological regions.

The 2013 assessment of ecological coherence26 was undertaken based on the OSPAR MPA network as it stood at the end of 2012. This showed some positive signs but concluded that the network was not yet ecologically coherent, and that further network development was required.

OSPAR (2006)27 recommends that an assessment of MPA ecological coherence should be centred around five key principles: ‘features’, ‘representativity’, ‘connectivity’, ‘resilience’ and ‘management’ (Box 1). Please note that work on assessing management progress is reported in Chapter 3 of this report. Since the 2013 assessment, the Intersessional Correspondence Group on Marine Protected Areas (ICG-MPA) have had in place a task group on ecological coherence (comprising representatives from UK, France, Germany, and the Netherlands) to further develop criteria to assess ecological coherence.

Box 1 – OSPAR principles for assessing the ecological coherence of MPA networks

Features – MPAs should be designated in areas that best represent the range of habitats, species and ecological processes in the OSPAR Maritime Area. Proportions of features that should be protected by the MPA network may be higher for particularly threatened and/or declining features.

Representativity – MPAs should protect examples of the same features across their known biogeographical extent to reflect known sub-types. EUNIS Level 3 habitats are stated as a potentially useful way of characterising the OSPAR Maritime Area for the purposes of including biogeographic variation in the network.

Connectivity – In the absence of dispersal data, connectivity may be approximated by ensuring the MPA network is well distributed geographically. Where scientific understanding is further developed, the MPA network should reflect locations where a specific path between identified places is known (e.g. critical areas of a life cycle for a given species).

Resilience – Replication of features in separate MPAs in each biogeographic area is desirable where possible. The appropriate size of a site should be determined by the purpose of the site and be sufficiently large enough to maintain the integrity of the feature(s) for which it is selected.

Management (reported in Chapter 3) – OSPAR MPAs should be managed to ensure the protection of the features for which they were selected and to support the functioning of an ecologically coherent network.

The ‘Madrid Criteria’ were developed by the ICG-MPA task group on ecological coherence as an evolution of the three initial spatial tests defined in 200828. The Madrid Criteria were designed to reflect the key network principles outlined in OSPAR (2006) whilst acknowledging limitations of data concerning OSPAR MPAs and target species and habitats. Box 2 lists the Madrid Criteria used for the current assessment of ecological coherence and the underlying OSPAR network principle(s) to which each one relates.

Box 2 – The ‘Madrid Criteria’ for assessing the ecological coherence of the OSPAR MPA network

A: OSPAR MPAs are geographically well‐distributed, with a maximum distance of up to 250 km for nearshore/coastline, 500 km for offshore and 1000 km for the high seas areas between MPAs – links to OSPAR (2006) network principle of connectivity.

B:  OSPAR MPAs, in combination with other relevant spatial measures as deemed appropriate, cover at least 10% in area of all Dinter biogeographic provinces – links to OSPAR (2006) network principle of representativity.

C: OSPAR MPAs represent all EUNIS Level 3 habitat classes and OSPAR threatened and/or declining (OSPAR T&D) species and habitats for which MPAs are considered appropriate more than once in all relevant Dinter biogeographic provinces a given feature is present – links to OSPAR (2006) network principles of features and resilience.

2.2 Summary of results

Application of the Madrid Criteria to the OSPAR MPA network as it stood at the end of 2021 illustrates that progress has been made in developing the network, but it cannot yet be considered to be ecologically coherent across the OSPAR Maritime Area.

The assessment against Madrid Criterion A (a proximity analysis of MPAs as a surrogate for the OSPAR MPA network principle of connectivity) suggests that the OSPAR MPA network is a well distributed network in OSPAR Regions II (North Sea) and III (Celtic Seas); however, considerable gaps remain in OSPAR Region I (Arctic Waters) and moderate gaps remain in Region V (Wider Atlantic), there is a small gap further offshore in OSPAR Region IV (Bay of Biscay and The Iberian Coast). Future work should consider addressing these geographical gaps.

The assessment against Madrid Criterion B (percentage coverage of MPAs of at least 10% of all the Dinter biogeographic provinces) shows that the 10%-target has been exceeded for seven of the 19 provinces (an increase of three sub-regions in comparison with 2018). At the other end of the scale four provinces have no OSPAR MPAs and a further three have less than 1% surface coverage (instead of four in 2018). These provinces are predominantly to the north of the OSPAR Maritime Area.

The assessment against Madrid Criterion C (protection of OSPAR threatened and/or declining species and habitats within OSPAR MPAs) shows that 28 of the 58 OSPAR threatened and/or declining habitats and species (where OSPAR Recommendations are in place) are protected within more than one MPA in the OSPAR Region(s) where they are considered to be under threat/subject to decline. The 28 features which are considered sufficiently protected are 4 of 4 OSPAR threatened and/or declining invertebrates, 8 of 9 birds, 1 of 2 reptiles, 2 of 4 marine mammals, 4 of 21 fish and 9 of 18 habitats.

2.3 Criterion A: Geographical distribution of OSPAR MPAs

2.3.1 Proximity analysis of OSPAR MPAs

Madrid Criterion A shows how geographically well-distributed OSPAR MPAs are based on proximity analyses, with maximum distances set as no more than 250 km between nearshore/coastline OSPAR MPAs (within the territorial waters of Contracting Parties), 500 km for offshore OSPAR MPAs (within the Exclusive Economic Zones of Contracting Parties) and 1000 km for MPAs in Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction within the OSPAR Maritime Area. These figures have been derived from previous work to assess the ecological coherence of the OSPAR MPA network undertaken in 201329.

This first criterion is intended as a proxy to the OSPAR MPA network principle of connectivity. In the absence of dispersal data, or information on critical areas for the life cycle of a given species, connectivity may be approximated by ensuring the MPA network is well distributed in space30.

Figure 2.1: Proximity analysis of OSPAR MPAs as a proxy for the OSPAR MPA network principle of connectivity. White areas indicate gaps in the MPA network according to Madrid Criterion A.

Figure 2.1: Proximity analysis of OSPAR MPAs as a proxy for the OSPAR MPA network principle of connectivity. White areas indicate gaps in the MPA network according to Madrid Criterion A.

Figure 2.1 presents the results of the application of Madrid Criterion A to the OSPAR MPA network as it stood at the end of 2021. Key observations from the information provided are that:

  • In OSPAR Regions II (North Sea) and III (Celtic Seas) OSPAR MPAs are considered to be geographically well distributed.
  • In OSPAR Region IV (Bay of Biscay and the Iberian Coast) only a small gap remains in the north-west of the Region.
  • In OSPAR Region V (Wider Atlantic), OSPAR MPAs in Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (ABNJ) and the UK have contributed substantially to the network of MPAs. Gaps remain, however, in the south-west, south, north and east of the Region.
  • In OSPAR Region I (Arctic Waters) there are considerable gaps remaining.

2.4 Criterion B: Coverage of OSPAR MPAs across biogeographic regions

Madrid Criterion B illustrates surface coverage of OSPAR MPAs across Dinter biogeographic provinces according to Dinter31.  In contrast to the OSPAR Regions (I-V), the Dinter biogeographic provinces account for the ecological variations present in a geographical sense across the OSPAR Maritime Area. A map of the Dinter biogeographic provinces used in the assessment against Madrid Criteria B is provided in Figure 2.2.

The target under Madrid Criterion B is for 10% coverage across each Dinter biogeographic province. This has its foundations in the Convention on Biological Diversity Aichi Target 11, which calls for 10% of coastal and marine areas to be effectively conserved (although this target is not only related to MPA coverage). The results of the assessment against Madrid Criterion B are presented in Table 2.1.

It is important to note that the Dinter biogeographic classification is less detailed in the deep sea and therefore does not characterise the biogeographic features of OSPAR Region V (Wider Atlantic) and part of Region I (Arctic Waters). In addition, this analysis excludes the three (holo) pelagic regions because they fully overlap with the benthic regions.

Figure 2.2: Dinter biogeographic provinces and MPAs in the OSPAR Maritime Area (as of 1 October 2021).

Figure 2.2: Dinter biogeographic provinces and MPAs in the OSPAR Maritime Area (as of 1 October 2021).

Table 2.1: OSPAR MPA and OECM + non-OSPAR MPA total surface area coverage32 on the continental shelf & continental slope and deep-sea Dinter biogeographic provinces and regions

Region

Sub-region

Province

MPA

Protected area (km²)

OECM and non-OSPAR MPA area (km2)

Total area (km²)

OSPAR

MPA coverage (%)

MPA & OECM

coverage (%)

Continental shelf and continental slope

Arctic

North-East Greenland Shelf

0

0

277 879

0

0

Arctic

North-East Water Polynya

0

0

71 845

0

0

Arctic

High Arctic Maritime

11 099

0

809 874

1,4

1.4

Arctic

Barents Sea

67 229

0

1 158 371

5,8

5.8

Arctic

Barents Sea : White Sea

0

0

86 372

0

0

Arctic

S-E Greenland-N. Iceland Shelf

2 970

0

425 600

0,7

0.7

Atlantic

East Atlantic Temperate

Boreal

171 595

24 740

710 185

24,2

27.6

Atlantic

East Atlantic Temperate

Boreal-Lusitanean

68 960

4 842

455 947

15,1

16.2

Atlantic

East Atlantic Temperate

Lusitanean-Boreal

25 221

0

151 202

16,7

16.7

Atlantic

East Atlantic Temperate

Lusitanean: Cool

8 352

0

49 715

16,8

16.8

Atlantic

East Atlantic Temperate

Lusitanean: Warm North

4 345

0

44 481

9,8

9.8

Atlantic

East Atlantic Temperate

Lusitanean: Warm South

4 895

0

24 081

20,3

20.3

Atlantic

East Atlantic Temperate

Macaronesian: Azores

812

0

22 545

3,6

3.6

Atlantic

East Atlantic Temperate

Norwegian Coast: Finnmark

0

0

67 422

0

0.0

Atlantic

East Atlantic Temperate

Norwegian Coast: Skagerrak

3 325

0

23 397

13,9

13.9

Atlantic

East Atlantic Temperate

Norwegian Coast: West Norway

3 537

0

322 339

1,1

1.1

Atlantic

East Atlantic Temperate

South Iceland-Faeroe Shelf

566

0

306 382

0,2

0.2

Deep sea

Arctic

20 772

0

2 235 011

0,9

0.9

Atlantic

1 096 852

9 141

6 995 730

15,7

15.8

 

Table 2.1 presents the results of the application of Madrid Criterion B to the OSPAR MPA network as it stood at the end of 2021. Key observations from the information provided are that:

  • There are minor to moderate increases in the percentage coverage of Dinter Biogeographic Provinces/regions by comparison to the last assessment undertaken in 2018. A substantial increase from 7,2% to 15,7% was achieved for the Atlantic deep-sea region.  
  • The 10% coverage target has been met for seven of the 19 Dinter Biogeographic Provinces/regions in the OSPAR Maritime Area (six in 2018): six within the Eastern Atlantic Temperate sub-region, one within the Atlantic deep-sea region.
  • A further one of the 19 Dinter Biogeographic Provinces/regions exceeds 9% in terms of surface coverage within the Eastern Atlantic Temperate sub-region and another one exceeds 5% coverage in the Barents Sea province.
  • Four of the 19 OSPAR Dinter Biogeographic provinces/regions do not include any OSPAR MPAs (unchanged since 2018) and a further three (instead of four in 2018) have less than 1% surface coverage. These provinces/regions are predominantly in the north of the OSPAR Maritime Area.

2.4.1 Coverage of OECMs and non-OSPAR MPAs 

In total, 7 OECMs and two non-OSPAR MPAs were nominated by Contracting Parties in their national waters. Table 2.1 and Figure 2.3 present the area covered by OECMs and non-OSPAR MPAs in the 19 Dinter Biogeographic Provinces/regions as nominated by Contracting Parties as it stood by the end of 2021. These areas may contribute to effective in-situ conservation of biodiversity, even though they may be managed primarily for other reasons.

Key observations from the information provided are that by considering OECMs and non-OSPAR MPA as potential contributors to effective in-situ conservation of biodiversity there are minor to moderate increases in the coverage of three Dinter Biogeographic Provinces/regions (Boreal: 24,2% to 27,6%; Boreal-Lusitanean: 15,1% to 16,2% and Atlantic Deep sea Region: 15,7% to 15,8%).

Figure 2.3: Distribution of OECMs and non-OSPAR MPAs as nominated by OSPAR Contracting Parties (as of 1 October 2021).

Figure 2.3: Distribution of OECMs and non-OSPAR MPAs as nominated by OSPAR Contracting Parties (as of 1 October 2021).

2.5 Criterion C: Representation and replication of marine habitats and species within OSPAR MPAs

Madrid Criterion C assesses the representation and replication of EUNIS Level 3 habitat classes and OSPAR threatened and/or declining habitats and species (where MPAs may be considered as part of the underlying Recommendation).

Madrid Criterion C reflects the OSPAR (2006)33 network principles of ‘Features’ (representing the range of habitats, species, and ecological processes across the OSPAR Maritime Area), ‘Representativity’ (protecting features and EUNIS Level 3 habitats across their known geographic range), and ‘Resilience’ (protecting features in multiple MPAs).

At present the OSPAR MPA database is deficient in information regarding the protection of EUNIS Level 3 habitat type. There are also gaps regarding the protection of OSPAR threatened and/or declining features and it has been necessary to use data on OSPAR threatened and/or declining features considered to be present within MPAs as opposed to justifying the underlying designation. Therefore, a full assessment of Madrid Criterion C has not been possible. The indicative results presented in Table 2.2, Table 2.3, Table 2.4, Table 2.5, Table 2.6 and Table 2.7 provide an overview of the protection of instances of each OSPAR threatened and/or declining habitat and species. This information also provides a connection to conservation measures reporting against the OSPAR Recommendations for threatened and/or declining habitats and species.

The results of the assessment against Madrid Criterion C are presented in Table 2.2, Table 2.3, Table 2.4, Table 2.5, Table 2.6andTable 2.7 per feature group (invertebrates, birds, reptiles, marine mammals, fish and habitats). The two features where recommendations are still pending (dog whelk (Nucella lapillus) and bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus)) have been excluded from the analysis as the potential suitability of MPAs as a tool to support their conservation has not been confirmed. The criterion is considered to be met when the feature is protected by more than one MPA in the OSPAR Region(s) for which they are listed by OSPAR as being under threat/subject to decline. Features are counted if an MPA covers it in an area where the feature occurs also if it is not under threat and/or in decline in that Region, in such cases the tables can list a value greater than zero and still conclude that protection is not in place.

Where a cell is greyed out, this indicates that the feature is not known to occur within that OSPAR Region. A bold number indicates the feature is considered to be under threat/subject to decline in that particular Region.

Table 2.2: OSPAR threatened and/or declining invertebrate protection within MPAs across the OSPAR Regions.

OSPAR T&D invertebrate species

I – Arctic Waters

II - Greater North Sea

III - Celtic Seas

IV - Bay of Biscay and Iberian coasts

V - Wider Atlantic

Protection in place

Arctica islandica- Ocean quahog

0

17

22

1

 

Yes– There is MPA replication in OSPAR Region II & III34 where the feature is considered to be under threat/subject to decline

Megabalanus azoricus- Azorean barnacle

 

 

 

 

3

Yes– There is MPA replication in OSPAR Region V where the feature is considered to be under threat/subject to decline

Nucella lapillus- Dog whelk

Recommendation pending

0

9

15

8

0

None-applicable

Ostrea edulis- Flat oyster

0

13

10

4

 

Yes –There is MPA replication in OSPAR Region II & III35 where the feature is considered to be under threat/subject to decline

Patella ulyssiponensis aspera- Azorean limpet

 

 

 

 

3

Yes –There is MPA replication in OSPAR Region V where the feature is considered to be under threat/subject to decline

 

Table 2.3: OSPAR threatened and/or declining bird protection within MPAs across the OSPAR Regions.

OSPAR T&D bird species

I – Arctic Waters

II - Greater North Sea

III - Celtic Seas

IV - Bay of Biscay and Iberian coasts

V - Wider Atlantic

Protection in place

Larus fuscus fuscus,Fuscus sub-species- Lesser black-backed gull, Fuscus sub-species

436

 

 

 

 

Yes –There is MPA protection in OSPAR Region I where it is considered to be under threat/subject to decline.

Pagophila eburnea               - Ivory gull

2

 

 

 

 

Yes –There is MPA protection in OSPAR Region I where it is considered to be under threat/subject to decline.

Polysticta stelleri- Steller's eider

2

 

 

 

 

Yes –There is MPA protection in OSPAR Region I where it is considered to be under threat/subject to decline.

Puffinus assimilis baroli-Macaronesianshearwater

 

 

 

 

5

Yes –There is MPA replication in OSPAR Region V where the feature is considered to be under threat/subject to decline

Puffinus mauretanicus- Balearic shearwater

 

2

3

21

0

No –There is no MPA protection in OSPAR Region V where the feature is considered to be under threat/subject to decline.

Rissa tridactyla- Black-legged kittiwake

4

34

19

18

0

Yes –There is MPA protection in OSPAR Region I, II and III37 where the feature is considered to be under threat/subject to decline.

Sterna dougallii- Roseate tern

 

7

5

5

5

Yes –There is MPA replication in OSPAR Regions where the feature is considered to be under threat/subject to decline

Uria aalge- Iberian guillemot(synonyms: Uria aalge albionis, Uria aalge ibericus)

 

 

 

17

 

Yes –There is MPA replication in OSPAR Region IV where the feature is considered to be under threat/subject to decline

Uria lomvia- Thick-billed murre

4

1

 

1

 

Yes –There is MPA protection in OSPAR Region I where it is considered to be under threat/subject to decline.

 

Table 2.4: OSPAR threatened and/or declining reptile protection within MPAs across the OSPAR Regions

OSPAR T&D reptile species

I – Arctic Waters

II - Greater North Sea

III - Celtic Seas

IV - Bay of Biscay and Iberian coasts

V - Wider Atlantic

Protection in place

Caretta caretta- Loggerhead turtle

 

0

0

6

6

Yes –There is MPA replication in all OSPAR Regions the feature is considered to be under threat/subject to decline.

Dermochelys coriacea- Leatherback turtle

0

0

0

12

8

No –There is no MPA protection in OSPAR Regions I, II & III where the feature is considered to be under threat/subject to decline.

 

Table 2.5: OSPAR threatened and/or declining mammal protection within MPAs across the OSPAR Regions.

OSPAR T&D mammal species

I – Arctic Waters

II - Greater North Sea

III - Celtic Seas

IV - Bay of Biscay and Iberian coasts

V - Wider Atlantic

Protection in place

Balaena mysticetus- Bowhead whale

2

 

 

 

 

Yes –There is MPA protection in OSPAR Region I where it is considered to be under threat/subject to decline.

Balaenoptera musculus- Blue whale

0

0

0

0

8

No –There is no MPA protection in OSPAR Regions I, II, III and IV where the feature is considered to be under threat/subject to decline.

Eubalaena glacialis- Northern right whale

0

0

0

0

2

No –There is no MPA protection in OSPAR Regions I,II,III & IV where the feature is considered to be under threat/subject to decline.

Phocoena phocoena- Harbour porpoise

0

34

23

15

1

Yes –There is MPA replication in all OSPAR Regions the feature is considered to be under threat/subject to decline.

 

Table 2.6: OSPAR threatened and/or declining fish protection within MPAs across the OSPAR Regions.

OSPAR T&D fish species

I – Arctic Waters

II - Greater North Sea

III - Celtic Seas

IV - Bay of Biscay and Iberian coasts

V - Wider Atlantic

Protection in place

Acipenser sturio- Sturgeon

 

0

38

4

 

No –There is no MPA protection in OSPAR Region II where the feature is considered to be under threat/subject to decline.

Alosa alosa- Allis shad

 

8

5

12

 

Yes –There is MPA replication in all OSPAR Regions the feature is considered to be under threat/subject to decline.

Anguilla Anguilla- European eel

0

11

12

8

1

No –There is no MPA protection in OSPAR Region I where the feature is considered to be under threat/subject to decline.

Centrophorus granulosus- Gulper shark

 

 

 

1

8

No –There is no MPA replication in OSPAR Region IV where the feature is considered to be under threat/subject to decline.

Centrophorus squamosus- Leafscale gulper shark

0

1

0

1

9

No –There is no MPA protection in OSPAR Regions I and III and no replication in OSPAR Region II and IV where the feature is considered to be under threat/subject to decline.

Centroscymnus coelolepis- Portuguese dogfish

0

1

1

1

9

No –There is no MPA protection in OSPAR Region I and no replication in OSPAR Region II, III and IV  where the feature is considered to be under threat/subject to decline.

Cetorhinus maximus- Basking shark

0

1

239

3

3

No –There is no MPA protection in OSPAR Region I where the feature is considered to be under threat/subject to decline.

Coregonus lavaretus oxyrinchus- Houting

 

10

 

 

 

Yes –There is MPA replication in OSPAR Region II where the feature is considered to be under threat/subject to decline

 

Dipturus batis- Common Skate

0

3

3

1

0

No –There is no MPA protection in OSPAR Regions I & V and no replication in OSPAR Region IV where the feature is considered to be under threat/subject to decline.

Gadus morhua– Cod

0

14

1

0

0

No –There is no MPA replication in OSPAR Region III where the feature is considered to be under threat/subject to decline.

Hippocampus guttulatus- Long-snouted seahorse

 

4

4

7

2

Yes –There is MPA replication in all OSPAR Regions the feature is considered to be under threat/subject to decline.

Hippocampus hippocampus- Short-snouted seahorse

 

12

1

5

0

No –There is no MPA protection in OSPAR Regions V and no replication in OSPAR Region III where the feature is considered to be under threat/subject to decline.

Hoplostethus atlanticus-  Orange roughy

0

 

 

1

8

No –There is no MPA protection in OSPAR Region I and no replication in OSPAR Region IV where the feature is considered to be under threat/subject to decline.

Lamna nasus- Porbeagle

0

2

2

0

1

No –There is no MPA protection in OSPAR Region I & IV and no replication in OSPAR Region V where the feature is considered to be under threat/subject to decline.

Petromyzon marinus- Sea lamprey

0

16

9

6

 

No –There is no MPA protection in OSPAR Region I where the feature is considered to be under threat/subject to decline.

Raja clavata- Thornback ray

0

2

1

5

4

No –There is no MPA protection in OSPAR Region I and no replication in OSPAR Region III the feature is considered to be under threat/subject to decline.

Raja montagui- Spotted Ray

 

3

1

3

0

No –There is no MPA protection in OSPAR Region V  and no replication in OSPAR Region III where the feature is considered to be under threat/subject to decline.

Rostroraja alba- White skate

 

1

0

1

0

No –There is no MPA protection in OSPAR Regions III and V and no replication in OSPAR Region II and IV where the feature is considered to be under threat/subject to decline.

Salmo salar– Salmon

2

7

440

7

 

Yes –There is MPA replication in all OSPAR Regions the feature is considered to be under threat/subject to decline.

Squalus acanthias- [North-East Atlantic] spurdog

0

3

1

0

1

No –There is no MPA protection in OSPAR Region I and IV and no replication in OSPAR Regions III and V where the feature is considered to be under threat/subject to decline.

Squatina squatina- Angel shark

 

0

1

0

No –There is no MPA protection in OSPAR Regions II and IV and no replication in OSPAR Regions II,III and IV where the feature is considered to be under threat/subject to decline.

Thunnus thynnus- Bluefin tuna

Recommendation pending

 

 

 

2

5

None-applicable

 

Table 2.7: OSPAR threatened and/or declining habitat protection within MPAs across the OSPAR Regions.

OSPAR T&D habitats

I – Arctic Waters

II - Greater North Sea

III - Celtic Seas

IV - Bay of Biscay and Iberian coasts

V - Wider Atlantic

Protection in place

Carbonate mounds

0

 

 

0

1

No –There is no MPA replication in OSPAR Region V where the feature is considered to be under threat/subject to decline.

Coral gardens

2

2

0

4

12

No –There is no MPA protection in OSPAR Region III where the feature is considered to be under threat/subject to decline.

Cymodocea meadows

 

 

 

0

 

No –There is no MPA protection in the OSPAR Region the feature is considered to be under threat/subject to decline.

Deep-sea sponge aggregations

0

5

0

2

7

No –There is no MPA protection in OSPAR Regions I and III where the feature is considered to be under threat/subject to decline.

Haploops41

3

Yes –There is MPA replication in OSPAR Region II where the feature is considered to be under threat/subject to decline

Intertidal mudflats

2

21

23

11

 

Yes –There is MPA replication in all OSPAR Regions the feature is considered to be under threat/subject to decline.

Intertidal Mytilus edulis beds on mixed and sandy sediments

 

14

11

4

 

Yes –There is MPA replication in the OSPAR Regions the feature is considered to be under threat/subject to decline.

Kelp Forests42

0

0

0

0

0

None-applicable

Littoral chalk communities

 

9

3

 

 

Yes –There is MPA replication in the OSPAR Region the feature is considered to be under threat/subject to decline.

Lophelia pertusareefs

8

2

1

3

10

No –There is no MPA replication in OSPAR Region III where the feature is considered to be under threat/subject to decline.

Maerl beds

0

12

25

5

0

Yes –There is MPA replication in the OSPAR Region the feature is considered to be under threat/subject to decline.

Modiolus modiolusbeds

0

11

11

1

0

No –There is no MPA replication in OSPAR Regions I, IV and V where the feature is considered to be under threat/subject to decline.

Oceanic ridges with hydrothermal vents/fields

0

 

 

 

2

Yes –There is MPA replication in the OSPAR Region the feature is considered to be under threat/subject to decline.

Ostrea edulisbeds

 

   2

2

3

 

Yes –There is MPA replication in OSPAR Region III where the feature is considered to be under threat/subject to decline.

Sabellaria spinulosareefs

0

10

3

5

0

Yes –There is MPA replication in the OSPAR Regions the feature is considered to be under threat/subject to decline.

Seamounts

0

 

 

1

12

No –There is no MPA protection in OSPAR Region I and no replication in OSPAR Region IV where the feature is considered to be under threat/subject to decline.

Sea-pen and burrowing megafauna communities

1

16

17

1

4

Yes –There is MPA replication in the OSPAR Regions the feature is considered to be under threat/subject to decline.

Zosterabeds

1

27

34

13

 

No –There is no MPA replication in OSPAR Region I where the feature is considered to be under threat/subject to decline.

Tables 2.2 - Table 2.7 present the results of the application of Madrid Criterion C to the OSPAR MPA network as it stood at 1 October 2021. Key observations are that:

  • 28 of the 58 OSPAR threatened and/or declining habitats and species (where recommendations are in place) are protected within more than one MPA in the OSPAR Region(s) they are considered to be under threat/subject to decline.
  • All OSPAR threatened and/or declining invertebrates where recommendations are in place are considered to be adequately represented and replicated within MPAs in the OSPAR Regions where they are considered to be under threat/subject to decline (Table 2.2).
  • Eight of the nine bird species listed by OSPAR as threatened and/or declining are considered to be adequately represented and replicated within MPAs in the OSPAR Regions they are considered to be under threat/subject to decline. One species (Puffinus mauretanicus) lacks representation and replication in OSPAR Region V, where it is considered under threat/subject to decline (Table 2.3).
  • Of the two species of turtle listed by OSPAR as threatened and/or declining, Caretta caretta is considered to be adequately represented and replicated within the OSPAR MPA network, but protection for Dermochelys coriacea is lacking in OSPAR Regions I, II and III (Table 2.4).
  • Of the four species of marine mammals listed as threatened and/or declining, Phocoena phocoena and Balaena mysticetus are considered to be adequately represented and replicated by the OSPAR MPA network. Further consideration is required across all OSPAR Regions except for OSPAR Region V where protection of mammals is considered to be adequate (Table 2.5).
  • Only four of the 21 species of fish listed by OSPAR as threatened and/or declining (with Recommendations in place) are considered to be adequately represented and replicated by the OSPAR MPA network. Attention is required across all OSPAR Regions to varying degrees. (Table 2.6).
  • Nine of the 18 habitats listed by OSPAR as threatened and/or declining are considered to be adequately represented and replicated by the OSPAR MPA network. OSPAR Region I is notably under-represented. Cymodocea meadows and Carbonate mounds are not represented or protected at all (Table 2.7).

2.6 Ecologically based assessments

The approach using the Madrid Criteria A, B and C to assess the ecological coherence of the OSPAR MPA network using geographic indices (see Box 1 and 2) is a proximate approach in the absence of distribution data and information on the life history traits of features protected within the OSPAR MPA network.

Pilots performed in the last 3 years show the assessment of Criteria A and C can be ecologically and feature based using distribution data and ecological knowledge on life history and dispersal of mobile threatened and/or declining features43,44. For the assessment of Criterion A distribution maps of occurrence data of a feature (see for instance Figure 2.4) can be assembled to identify the areas most in need of protection for a specific feature.

Figure 2.4: Distribution map of Uria aalge according to https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/22694841/ 132577296 displaying resident areas (yellow), breeding areas (red) and vagrant areas (green). All OSPAR MPAs are displayed in pink.

Figure 2.4: Distribution map of Uria aalge according to https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/22694841/ 132577296 displaying resident areas (yellow), breeding areas (red) and vagrant areas (green). All OSPAR MPAs are displayed in pink.

Instead of assessing the MPA network’s principles (Box 1) from the network as a whole, these principles can be assessed from the perspective of each feature separately. In the case of the assessment of connectivity one can assess the cover of MPAs protecting a feature against the distribution it displays. When multiple features are assessed this way, an image arises of where new MPAs could be installed to fill a gap or where an existing MPA could expand the number of features it aims to protect.

In the case of the assessment of Madrid Criterion C (Representation and Replication), one can assess whether the feature is protected during all essential life-history stages and MPAs serve all needed functions for the feature. The functions of MPAs for features can be inferred applying ecological knowledge of the feature. An MPA may either serve as a breeding or nursery area, it may be a (periodic) residence or an area along a migration route.

Necessary data and ecological knowledge are available from multiple sources for most mobile features to perform such an assessment of Criteria A and C which could replace the current assessment methods or be presented alongside it.

One remaining challenge within this methodology whenimplementing these ecologically based assessments of Madrid Criteria A and C is the realisation that all geographically explicit ecological data is deficient and hence issues remain concerning accuracy (spatial resolution, who collected the data; why and how, temporal correlation). The OSPAR Data and Information Management System (ODIMS) provides a single geo-referenced dataset (map) for distribution of threatened and/or declining features: https://odims.ospar.org/en/submissions/ospar_habitats_points_2015_01/. This map only displays the recognised whereabouts of threatened and/or declining habitats. No geo-referenced dataset has been approved on ODIMS for mobile threatened and/or declining features for which the MPA network’s principles are most relevant to follow.

Consensus on either acceptable levels of accuracy or acceptable/recognised websites to provide ecological distribution data is needed in order to decide on the applicability and possible role of ecologically based assessments in the following Status Assessment.

2.7 Conclusions and next steps

Application of the Madrid Criteria to the OSPAR MPA network illustrates that considerable progress has been made in developing the network since the 2018 assessment. However, the network cannot yet be considered to be ecologically coherent across the OSPAR Maritime Area (Table 2.8).

MPAs within OSPAR Regions II (Greater North Sea) and III (Celtic Seas) are considered to be geographically well distributed, but significant geographical gaps remain within the MPA network in OSPAR Regions I (Arctic Waters) and V (Wider Atlantic). The 10% coverage target has been met for seven of the 19 Dinter biogeographic provinces/regions in the case of the continental shelf and slope of the OSPAR Maritime Area (four in 2018), all of them within the Eastern Atlantic Temperate sub-region.  At the other end of the scale, the OSPAR Dinter biogeographic provinces/regions that do not include any OSPAR MPAs or have less than 1% surface coverage are all in the north of the OSPAR Maritime Area. Twenty-eight of the 58 OSPAR threatened and/or declining habitats and species (where Recommendations are in place) are protected within more than one MPA in the OSPAR Region(s) where they are considered to be under threat/subject to decline. Work moving forward should focus on considering the nomination of further MPAs to OSPAR in Regions I and V and in the more northerly Dinter biogeographic provinces. In addition, further work is required to identify MPAs for OSPAR threatened and/or declining habitats and species where MPAs are an appropriate conservation measure.

Table 2.8: Overview of OSPAR MPA network assessment against Madrid Criteria. Colours indicate progress against Madrid Criteria targets (terracotta-poor/low; yellow-moderate/medium; light blue-good/high).

 

Region I

Region II

Region III

Region IV

Region V

A: OSPAR MPAs are geographically welldistributed, (connectivity)

Considerable gaps

Well distributed

Well distributed

Small gap

Moderate gaps

B: OSPAR MPAs, cover at least 10% in area of all Dinter biogeographic regions

Arctic and Atlantic temperate Dinter regions have low to moderate coverage      (0-5.8%)

Boreal and Norwegian coast Dinter regions have a good coverage     (13.9-24.2%)

Boreal and Boreal-Lusitanean regions have good coverage (15.1-24.2%)

Lusitanean Dinter regions have a good coverage      (9.8-20.3%)

Atlantic Dinter regions

have a moderate coverage     (3.6-15.7%)

C_a: OSPAR MPAs represent all EUNIS Level 3 habitat classes

No information in database

No information in database

No information in database

No information in database

No information in database

C_b: OSPAR MPAs represent OSPAR listed features where threatened

37%

5/5 bird species

0/1 reptiles

1/3 mammals

1/11 fish

3/7 habitats

76%

3/3 invertebrates

3/3 birds

0/1 reptiles

1/3 mammals

13/19 fish

11/12 habitats

63%

3/3 invertebrate

3/3 birds

0/1 reptiles

1/3 mammals

8/17 fish

10/13 habitats

66%

1/1 invertebrates

3/3 birds

2/2 reptiles

0/2 mammals

10/18 fish

7/9 habitats

70%

2/2 invertebrates

2/3 birds

2/2 reptiles

2/2 mammals

8/13 fish

5/8 habitats

 

In addition, work is also required to improve the ecological and scientific robustness of the OSPAR eco-coherence assessment methodology. Specifically, the following work is recommended to improve the evidence base for future assessments:

  • Updating the OSPAR MPA database:
    • with information on the protection of OSPAR threatened and/or declining habitats and species; and
    • with information on EUNIS Level 3 habitat protection
  • Building a better understanding of EUNIS level 3 habitat distribution across the OSPAR Maritime Area;
  • Assessing the quality of and apply ecological distribution data to assess the connectivity of MPAs of each threatened and/or declining feature and assess whether the MPA network is representative and resilient for each threatened/and or declining feature. 

3 How well-managed are OSPAR MPAs?

3.1 Background

At the 2010 OSPAR Ministerial Meeting in Bergen, Norway, OSPAR Ministers committed to ensuring that by 2016 the OSPAR MPA network is well-managed; namely that coherent management measures have been set up and are being implemented to achieve the conservation objectives of the protected features of OSPAR MPAs. At the OSPAR Ministerial Meeting 2021 in Cascais, Portugal, Contracting Parties agreed to further develop the OSPAR network of MPAs and other effective area-based conservation measures (OECMs) and OSPAR Ministers committed to ensuring that the OSPAR MPA network is effectively managed to achieve its conservation objectives.

The OSPAR Intersessional Correspondence Group on Marine Protected Areas (ICG-MPA) developed a questionnaire-based approach to assess the degree to which OSPAR MPAs are considered to be well-managed. Whilst there is no formal agreement on what constitutes ‘well managed’ in terms of an MPA – the questionnaire poses four key questions that reflect progress around the typical implementation cycle of an MPA:

  • A – Is MPA management documented? This question explores whether information concerning the management of an OSPAR MPA has been published. Management in this context is interpreted as establishing the conservation objectives for protected features, documenting known pressures and threats that could affect protected features, listing management actions to address known pressures and threats, and finally showing spatial information on the distribution of protected features within a given OSPAR MPA.
  • B – Are measures to achieve conservation objectives being implemented? This question explores whether specific management actions have been identified and put into place by site managers by a legal mechanism or other effective means to address known pressures and threats.
  • C – Is monitoring in place to assess if measures are working? This question explores whether specific monitoring focused on the ecological status of protected features of OSPAR MPAs has taken place, or as a minimum, having a means of monitoring the compliance of site users with implemented measures.
  • D – Is the MPA moving towards or has it reached its conservation objectives? This question explores whether information collected on the ecological status of the protected features of OSPAR MPAs show the achievement, or indicate movement towards achieving, a site’s conservation objectives.

As of reporting in 2021, a confidence assessment process has been integrated to the reporting to help supplement the degree of understanding underpinning the assessment.

The UK, on behalf of the Ad Hoc Task Group on Management, developed guidance for Contracting Parties on how to complete the management questionnaire for OSPAR MPAs to aid consistency in the approach undertaken across Contracting Parties, including the confidence assessment introduced in 2021.

Contracting Parties were asked to answer each question with a Yes,Partial, No or Unknown response and to provide additional information as supplementary comments to help explain the response for each of their OSPAR MPAs.

3.2 Results 

This section sets out the results of the 2021 OSPAR management status assessment. Where appropriate, results are compared to reporting received in 2016 and 2018.

Response rate

In 2021, there were 581 OSPAR MPAs for which management status information was reported, including 85 new OSPAR MPA nominations submitted since 2018. Information responding to all four questions was received from Contracting Parties in October 2021 for 514 (91%). Partial information was received for 1 (<1%). No information was reported for the remaining 54 MPAs (representing 9% of the total). This equates to an increase of 9% on full management reporting since 2018, and an overall increase of 18% since reporting began in 2016.

Confidence reporting

For the 581 OSPAR MPAs, Contracting Parties provided high or moderate confidence scores for reporting management status for 38% of OSPAR MPAs. Low confidence scores were provided for 19% of the sites and another 20% were deemed not applicable for confidence scoring. There was a no response percentage of 23%.

Updates to existing OSPAR MPAs

Updated information was provided by Contracting Parties for 87% of OSPAR MPAs that were reported on for the 2018 data call. Overall, there has been some limited progression from the no or unknown response categories to the four questions towards yes and partial responses. The majority of updates however reflect changes or updates to the contextual information provided to support the interpretation of each response category, for example, new documentation made publicly available in the support of MPA management. In response to the 2021 data call, no new information has been provided for OSPAR MPAs in Finland, Iceland, Ireland, or Portugal, nor for OSPAR MPAs in ABNJ. This analysis is not applicable to the land-locked countries of Luxemburg and Switzerland.

The next section of this chapter provides an overall summary of OSPAR MPA management status questions across the OSPAR Maritime Area. It reviews key trends since the initial data call in 2016, and the second data call in 2018. This is then followed by a more detailed review of the responses against each of the four questions. Comparisons have been drawn with the management status reporting in 2016 and 2018 to identify any key observations. A more detailed review of the confidence scores is then provided. This chapter closes with key steps regarding ways to progress the management of the OSPAR MPA network.

3.3 Summary

Figure 3.1 represents the ‘2021 OSPAR MPA Management Barometer’: an indicator of the extent to which the OSPAR MPA network may be considered to be well-managed. This summary figure provides an overview of yes and partial responses to each of the four questions considered important in determining whether the OSPAR MPA network may be considered to be ‘well-managed’.

Figure 3.1: The 2021 OSPAR MPA Management Barometer

Figure 3.1: The 2021 OSPAR MPA Management Barometer

Figure 3.1 shows that the publicly available documentation of management information is now either fully or partially in place for 88% of OSPAR MPAs; an increase of 2% since the 2018 assessment and an increase of 11% since the 2016 assessment (Figure 3.2).

The percentage of MPAs that have full measures implemented remained similar between 2018 and 2021 reporting (14% and 13%, respectively) however there was a significant increase in partial measures (from 66% in 2016, 77% in 2018 and 83% in 2021. Responses to monitoring programmes have shown an increasing trend, 75% of MPAs now have either full or partial monitoring programmes, an increase of 6% since 2018, and an increase of 16% since 2016.

The movement towards achieving conservation objectives has also taken place in the interim reporting period, with an increase of 4% since 2018 responding with a yes to this question and an increase of 5% responding with an either full or partial response. However, in 2021, there are still high proportions of unknown responses (30%) to the achievement of conservation objectives (Figure 3.6). This is due largely to the lack of site-specific data on the ecological status of the protected features of OSPAR MPAs.

Figure 3.2 provides an overview of the increase in yes and partial responses to each of the four questions over time. It is considered that the OSPAR MPA network has improved management status since 2016 and therefore is increasingly considered to be ‘well-managed’ (an increase from 36% to 48%, from 2016 to 2021, respectively).

Figure 3.2: Increase in percentage (%) of Yes and Partial responses to the OSPAR MPA management status questions from 2016 to 2021

Figure 3.2: Increase in percentage (%) of Yes and Partial responses to the OSPAR MPA management status questions from 2016 to 2021

To support a ‘well-managed’ OSPAR MPA network, work moving forward should continue to focus on the following:

  • Improve the participation and response rates from the Contracting Parties, in particular to increase the reporting of confidence scores in the assessment;
  • Implementation of management measures considered necessary to achieve the conservation objectives of the protected features of OSPAR MPAs;
  • Establish and maintain long-term monitoring programmes to evaluate the effectiveness of such management measures to enable evidence-based assessments of feature condition and support greater confidence in the assessment of management statuses;
  • Continue to improve methods of evaluating the degree to which the OSPAR MPA network is well-managed. This assessment should build on reliable ecological data to determine whether the OSPAR MPA network is delivering a genuine conservation benefit to targeted habitats, species and ecological processes. It should also build on the experience gained of undertaking previous assessments and where appropriate, guidance to Contracting Parties should be updated to usefully reflect lessons learned or changes in approach; and
  • For OSPAR MPAs in ABNJ, there should be continued effort to further collective arrangements with competent management authorities such that all management recommendations for OSPAR MPAs in ABNJ might be implemented. In addition, Contracting Parties should continue to raise awareness of OSPAR MPAs in ABNJ with relevant stakeholders and interest groups and look to further our scientific understanding of these sites.

3.4 Question 1: Is MPA management documented?

This question explores whether information concerning the management of an OSPAR MPA has been published. Documenting ‘management’ in the context of this question refers to the publication of the following information:

  • Conservation objectives for the protected features of the site;
  • Identifying known pressures and threats to achieving those conservation objectives;
  • Listing the actions and measures that may need to be undertaken to address those known pressures and threats; and
  • Showing spatial information on the location/distribution of protected features within the site.

If all of this information has been published, a yes response to this question can be given. If conservation objectives and known threats and pressures to achieving those conservation objectives have been published, a partial response can be given; anything less receives a no response. If the status of management information in the public domain is unknown, an unknown response is given. A no response is given where the information has not been reported to OSPAR.

Figure 3.3: OSPAR 2021 data call results to the question: ‘Is the MPA management documented?’

Figure 3.3: OSPAR 2021 data call results to the question: ‘Is the MPA management documented?’

Figure 3.3 presents the results to the question ‘Is the MPA management documented?’ for the OSPAR MPAs where information was reported against the 2021 MPA management data call. Key observations for the 2021 reporting with reference to past reporting in 2016 and 2018 are as follows:

  • The proportion of OSPAR MPAs for which management has been fully documented has increased by 2% since the 2018 assessment and 12% since the 2016 assessment; attributable to new OSPAR MPA nominations since 2019 that are further behind in the MPA management cycle (discounting these new nominations would result in an 8% increase since 2018).
  • For the majority of the OSPAR MPAs (60%), management is fully documented and in the public domain; namely, information that includes protected feature conservation objectives, known threats and pressures assessed, actions identified that may be required to address known pressures and/or threats and information on the spatial extent of protected features within OSPAR MPAs.
  • For those MPAs where a partial response was received (28%), the main reasons cited were that either conservation objectives are in the process of being revised or work is ongoing to identify the site-specific management actions that may be required to address the known threats and/or pressures to the protected features of OSPAR MPAs. There is an increase of 11% since the 2016 data call in a partial response to this question.
  • For OSPAR MPAs where a no response was provided (2%), comments indicated that this was because management plans are still being developed and not yet publicly available. This has decreased by 2% since the 2018 data call.
  • There were no unknown responses reported to this question in the 2016, 2018 and 2021 data calls.
  • The number of OSPAR MPAs for which no responses were provided regarding the provision of management documentation has almost halved since 2016 (19% in 2016, 11% in 2018 and 10% in 2021).  

3.5 Question 2: Are measures implemented?

This question explores whether the specific management actions identified by site managers to address known threats and pressures have been put into effect by a legal mechanism or other appropriate means.

If all specific management actions required to address known threats and pressures have been put into effect, a yes response to this question is given. If only some of the specific management actions required have been put in place, a partial response to this question applies. If none of the required specific management actions have been put in place, a no response applies. Unknown applies if the assessor is unsure of the status of management actions or if there are measures in place, but it is unclear whether they address known threats and pressures to the protected features of the site. A no response is given where no information has been reported.

Figure 3.4: OSPAR 2021 data call results to the question: ‘Are the measures to achieve the conservation objectives being implemented?’

Figure 3.4: OSPAR 2021 data call results to the question: ‘Are the measures to achieve the conservation objectives being implemented?’

Figure 3.4 presents the results to the question ‘Are the measures to achieve the conservation objectives being implemented?’ for the OSPAR MPAs where information was reported against the 2021 MPA management data call. Key observations for the 2021 report and references to the past reporting in 2016 and 2018 are as follows:

  • 13% of the OSPAR MPAs are considered to have all the management measures in place considered necessary to achieve the conservation objectives of their protected features. This has declined slightly since 2018 reporting (1%), attributable to new OSPAR MPA nominations since 2019 that are further behind in the MPA management cycle.
  • >69% of OSPAR MPAs have partially implemented management measures because work is ongoing to identify and implement measures for the management of non-licensable activities (particularly concerning fishing activities). This has increased since 2018 (63%), and since 2016 (54%), reflecting progression in the implementation of management measures.
  • For the 2% of OSPAR MPAs for which a no response was provided, supporting comments suggest that some management plans are in the early stages, or that actions have been identified but not yet implemented. This has decreased since the data call in 2018 (7%).
  • There were 6% of unknown responses reported to this question in 2021. Supporting comments suggest that the sites were yet to have assessments therefore specific mitigation measures were unknown. The unknown response had increased as there were no unknown responses in the 2018 or 2016 data calls.
  • The number of OSPAR MPAs for which no information was provided by Contracting Parties has notably decreased over time (9% in 2021, 16% in 2018 and compared to 26% in 2016).

3.6 Question 3: Is monitoring taking place?

This question explores whether specific monitoring has taken place that concentrates on the ecological status of protected features of OSPAR MPAs. Whilst monitoring will ideally focus on ecological monitoring, this question also acknowledges the role that monitoring the compliance of site users with implemented measures can play in achieving a site’s conservation objectives.

A yes response shows that a regularly implemented monitoring programme is in place that covers all the protected features of an OSPAR MPA. If a monitoring programme only focuses on some of the protected features of an OSPAR MPA or monitoring is only based on site user compliance with implemented measures then a partial response to this question is given. A no response applies when there is no ecological status nor compliance monitoring in place for a given OSPAR MPA. Unknown applies if the assessor is unsure on the status of monitoring for a given OSPAR MPA. A no response is given where no information has been reported.

Figure 3.5: OSPAR 2021 data call results to the question: ‘Is monitoring in place to assess if measures are working?’

Figure 3.5: OSPAR 2021 data call results to the question: ‘Is monitoring in place to assess if measures are working?’

Figure 3.5 presents the results to the question ‘Is monitoring in place to assess if measures are working?’ for the OSPAR MPAs where information was reported against the 2021 MPA management data call. Key observations for the 2021 report and references to the past reporting in 2016 and 2018 are as follows:

  • For 14% of OSPAR MPAs, yes responses were received; suggesting long-term ecological monitoring programmes are in place. This has returned back to the 2016 data call result since decreasing in 2018 (11%). This fluctuation in response was likely a result of improvements in the guidance provided to Contracting Parties in reviewing their previous responses to this question.
  • The proportion of OSPAR MPAs that received a partial response to whether monitoring is in place to assess whether management measures are working has increased by 2% to 60% in 2021. Whilst there are mechanisms in place to monitor the compliance of site users with implemented measures, there is often not a regularly implemented programme to assess the ecological status of all the protected features of OSPAR MPAs. However, many cases noted that baseline ecological condition monitoring surveys have taken place and the on-going ecological condition of some protected features is being monitored. A key message is that resource constraints are cited as a significant barrier to the implementation of regular ecological monitoring programmes.
  • 16% of OSPAR MPAs were reported as not yet having any monitoring in place and this is relatively unchanged since 2016 (15%) and 2018 (14%). The reasons provided for there being no monitoring in place were: insufficient time to put monitoring in place for recently designated MPAs, no dedicated site condition monitoring or the fact that wider MPA monitoring strategies are being developed to address monitoring needs for sites.
  • There were no unknown responses reported to this question based on the 2016, 2018 and 2021 data calls.
  • The percentage of OSPAR MPAs for which responses were not provided has significantly decreased since 2016, with 9% of sites for which no responses were provided in 2021 compared to 17% in 2018 and 26% in 2016.

3.7 Question 4: Are MPAs moving towards or have they reached their conservation objectives?

This question explores whether information collected on the ecological status of the protected features of OSPAR MPAs shows progress towards achieving a site’s conservation objectives.

If the condition of all protected features of a given OSPAR MPA are improving or they have achieved their conservation objectives, then a yes response is given. If some of the protected features of a given OSPAR MPA are improving in their condition or have achieved their conservation objectives whilst others remain static or are declining in their condition, a partial response is appropriate. If available data suggest no indication of improvement in the condition of protected features or that some protected features may be declining in condition, a no response is given. If there are no data available with which to make a judgement on the degree to which the conservation objectives of a given OSPAR MPA are being met then an unknown response is given. A no response is given where no information has been reported.

Figure 3.6: OSPAR 2021 data call results to the question: ‘Is the MPA moving towards or has it reached its conservation objectives?’

Figure 3.6: OSPAR 2021 data call results to the question: ‘Is the MPA moving towards or has it reached its conservation objectives?’

Figure 3.6 presents the results to the question ‘Is the MPA moving towards or has it reached its conservation objectives?’ for the OSPAR MPAs reported against in the 2021 MPA management data call. Key observations for the 2021 report and references to the past reporting in 2016 and 2018 are as follows:

  • 18% of OSPAR MPAs are considered to have met their conservation objectives in 2021 compared to 11% in 2016 and 14% in 2018. Responses were either based on outputs of direct site condition monitoring information, assessments suggesting that the protected features of OSPAR MPAs are already in favourable condition, or that legal protection has been implemented against damaging activity in the sites.
  • Nearly a third of OSPAR MPAs (31%) are considered to be partially achieving their conservation objectives in 2021, this has remained constant since 2018 reporting, and had increased since 2016 (25%). There are multiple reasons cited for a partial response:
    • Some of the protected features are considered to be meeting their conservation objectives, based on the analysis of feature condition monitoring and other types of indicators, whilst others are declining or remaining static in their condition.
    • Monitoring information has yet to be analysed for some of the protected features to make a judgement on the degree to which conservation objectives have been met.
    • There is no direct site condition monitoring information available but using information on the exposure of a feature to known pressures and/or threats as a proxy suggests all protected features of a given OSPAR MPA are likely to be meeting their conservation objectives.
  • The proportion of OSPAR MPAs for which a no response was provided in 2021 (12%) has increased since 2018 (10%). Of the 12% of OSPAR MPAs for which a ‘no’ response was provided, comments indicated this was attributable to site condition monitoring information suggesting the conservation objectives of all protected features of a given OSPAR MPA are static or declining therefore not moving towards their conservation objectives.  
  • Nearly one third of the responses (30%) to this question suggested it was unknown as to whether the protected features of OSPAR MPAs are moving towards their conservation objectives which has decreased since 2018 and 2016 (28% and 27%, respectively). This conclusion is primarily attributed to no long-term ecological status information being available to make a judgement on the degree to which conservation objectives have been achieved. Other reasons include no site-specific feature assessments or recently designated sites not having any data available.
  • The percentage of OSPAR MPAs for which responses were not provided by Contracting Parties to this question has significantly decreased since 2016, with 9% of sites for which no responses were provided in 2021 compared to 27% in 2016, (and 18% in 2018).

3.7.1 Confidence reporting

In 2021, a need to assess the confidence in Contacting Parties’ responses to Question 4 was included. If there is sufficient monitoring data in place to determine the condition of the protected features, and whether they are achieving their conservation objectives, a high score is given. If there are some condition and/or compliance monitoring data available then a moderate score is appropriate. If there is no data available from condition or compliance monitoring, then a low score is given. A unknown or not applicable response is given then there is no suitable information available on which to base an assessment. A no response is given where no information has been reported.

For the 49% of responses which said Yes and Partially to Question 4 ‘Is the MPA moving towards or has it reached its conservation objectives?’, a breakdown of the confidence scores is shown in Table 3.1.

Table 3.1: OSPAR 2021 data call results of confidence scores that accompany the response to Question 4. Showing the differences in the confidence scores reported for all responses to Question 4 and the subset of Yes and Partial responses.
Confidence ScorePercentage (%) of responsePercentage (%) of response
High610
Moderate3247
Low1926
Not Applicable201
No Response2316

*answers to Question 4 of the OSPAR MPA management questionnaire

The 2021 data call was the first-time confidence scores were included in reporting management status of OSPAR MPAs (Table 3.1). Key observations are as follows:

  • 6% of OSPAR MPAs are considered to have high confidence scores in their responses to the fourth question. Comments indicate that sites with high confidence in their reporting have one or more long-term monitoring programmes. 10% of the OSPAR MPAs that had high confidence scores and were moving towards, or had reached, their conservation objectives had been designated for over 15 years, suggesting time may be an important factor in the maturity of the OSPAR MPA network.
  • Nearly one third of OSPAR MPAs (32%) are considered to have moderate confidence scores for 2021 reporting. These MPAs have some condition monitoring that occurs mainly at low frequencies. Nearly half of the responses for yes and partial (47%) had moderate confidence scores, reasons for this include no recent monitoring assessments within the last 3 – 12 years, which would have increased confidence in reporting against Question 4.
  • The proportion of OSPAR MPAs for which a low confidence response was provided was 19% whereas 26% of the yes and partial responses to Question 4 had low confidence scores. Comments indicate that MPAs with low confidence scores are often overdue routine monitoring due to a lack of resource and/or used proxy information on exposure to human activities to which the protected features of MPAs are considered to be sensitive to as source data in response to the fourth question.  
  • 20% of the responses to this question suggested it was not applicable to score the confidence of each site’s management status. Reasons for this included that no site-specific condition assessments had been undertaken or no official information on the monitoring of protected features; this was also the rationale for the 1% of responses that reported a yes and partialresponse to Question 4.
  • The percentage of OSPAR MPAs for which responses were not reported by Contracting Parties to this question was 23% overall and 16% for the yes and partial responses.

3.8 Management of OSPAR MPAs in Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction

OSPAR Contracting Parties have a collective responsibility to report annually to the OSPAR Commission on any specific actions as specified in the MPAs respective Recommendations (see Table 1.3) that have been undertaken to implement the management actions identified for the collectively designated MPAs in the Area Beyond National Jurisdiction (ABNJ) of the OSPAR Maritime Area. those sites. 

The OSPAR Commission has been managing MPAs in ABNJ for 10 years. The Decisions designating the first OSPAR MPAs in ABNJ came into force on 12 April 2011, as did their accompanying Recommendations. Decision 2012/1 of the OSPAR Convention resulted in the designation of a further OSPAR MPA in ABNJ – Charlie Gibbs North, which came into force on 14 January 2013, together with Recommendation 2012/1 on the management of this MPA. In 2021, at the Ministerial Meeting of the OSPAR Commission, the North Atlantic and Evlanov Sea basin MPA was designated by Decision 2021/1 and Recommendation 2021/1 which will come into force on 19 April 2022. 

Management actions that Contracting Parties to the OSPAR Convention have committed to undertaking and reporting on include for example the following:

  • Awareness raising - sharing information with relevant authorities, the general public and relevant organisations who may have a stake in a given OSPAR MPA in ABNJ.

Key activities include the creation of a website for the Charlie-Gibbs OSPAR MPA (Charlie-gibbs.org) and the integration of OSPAR MPAs in ABNJ into the navigational systems of relevant organisations (e.g., the military sector).

  • Information buildingfacilitating the collection and sharing of information on the protected features of OSPAR MPAs in ABNJ and activities taking place.

Key activities include analysis of fishing activities in MPAs in ABNJ based on Vessel Monitoring System data.

  • Marine sciencepromoting the application of best-practice in terms of scientific research within OSPAR MPAs in ABNJ.

Key activities include the production, distribution and promotion of an OSPAR Code of Conduct for Marine Research (OSPAR agreement 2008-1) for those undertaking scientific research in OSPAR MPAs in ABNJ.

  • New developmentsensuring the implementation of new activities in an OSPAR MPA in ABNJ is considered in terms of its effects on the protected features of the site.

Annual implementation reporting by Contracting Parties have provided updates on these action types and more specific actions that Contracting Parties have taken. Over the past decade Contracting Parties have engaged in their capacity as Contracting Parties in other international organisations to promote protective actions in the OSPAR ABNJ MPAs and have also presented the OSPAR work as an operational example at UN Intergovernmental Conference on an international legally binding instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (UN BBNJ). Contracting Parties have collected information about human activities that are ongoing in the ABNJ MPAs, for example identifying vessels under their flag that have passed through the MPAs. Contracting Parties have published articles to describe the ABNJ MPAs and to disseminate information about management actions in their ministries and institutes.

The OSPAR Commission works within the mandate of the OSPAR Convention and works collaboratively with other competent authorities managing specific human activities. The OSPAR Convention Annex V Article 4 states that no measures concerning the management of fisheries shall be adopted. Consequently, the OSPAR Commission has sought to collaborate with the competent authorities such the North-East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC) (Memorandum of Understanding Agreement 2008-04) and the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT). The OSPAR Commission has also sought to work collaboratively with the International Seabed Authority (ISA) (Memorandum of Understanding Agreement 2010-09) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO) (Agreement of Cooperation Agreement 1999-15).

The ‘Collective Arrangement between competent international organisations on cooperation and coordination regarding selected areas in areas beyond national jurisdiction in the North-East Atlantic’ (collective arrangement, OSPAR Agreement 2014-09) adopted by the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic (OSPAR) and the North-East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC) in 2014 is a formal agreement between legally competent authorities managing human activities in the Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (ABNJ) in the North-East Atlantic. The collective arrangement has been developed as a multilateral forum for dialogue and information exchange. The foremost objective of the collective arrangement is to facilitate cooperation and coordination on area-based management between legally competent authorities, promoting the exchange of information on each other’s activities and achievements and taking into consideration all conservation and management measures taken in relation to the North-East Atlantic. In addition to keeping under review a joint record of areas subject to specific measures and informing each other of any modification of existing measures or any new measures or decisions, the competent authorities have an opportunity to discuss subjects of common interest and concern. Regular meetings under the collective arrangement are organised to achieve these aims. Organisations that have not adopted the agreement are regularly invited as guests to participate in the discussions. The dialogue and information exchange through the collective arrangement has resulted in the management of fishing activities in several OSPAR MPAs in ABNJ as NEAFC has implemented fishing closure measures, including measures to protect Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems (Figure 3.7).

Figure 3.7: OSPAR MPAs in Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction and NEAFC fishery closure areas

Figure 3.7: OSPAR MPAs in Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction and NEAFC fishery closure areas

3.9 Conclusions and next steps

The results of the 2021 assessment of the management status of OSPAR MPAs show that whilst there is progress on taking management action and implementing measures to achieve conservation objectives, such actions are largely only partially completed across the OSPAR Maritime Area; a similar picture emerged for the implementation of site condition monitoring for OSPAR MPAs. Consequently, the predominant response to whether OSPAR MPAs are moving towards achieving their conservation objectives is either ‘partial’ or ‘unknown’ and only 18% are moving towards or have achieved their conservation objectives.

Overall, there has been an increase in the completion of reporting across Contracting Parties, with a lower percentage of ‘no response’ to all of the management status questions. Full management information was received from Contracting Parties for 91% of OSPAR MPAs. This equated to an increase of 9% and 18% since 2018 and 2016, respectively. The trend of improved management can be shown through positive signs such as increased partial or yes responses to all management status questions since the 2016 and 2018 assessments (Figure 3.2). However, in 2021, there still remains a high proportion of unknown responses (30%) to the achievement of conservation objectives because site-specific data on the ecological status of the protected features of OSPAR MPAs were not available.

As of reporting in 2021, the confidence assessment process had been integrated to the reporting to help supplement the degree of understanding underpinning the assessment. Most of the OSPAR MPAs that had high confidence scores (6%) had been designated for over 15 years. This provides further emphasis that long-term monitoring studies are needed to understand whether an MPA is moving towards its conservation objectives. However, there was a high proportion of no response (23%) to the confidence scoring, with little rationale provided.

Work moving forward should focus on the implementation of all management measures which Contracting Parties feel are required to achieve the conservation objectives of the protected features of OSPAR MPAs within national jurisdiction. In parallel, long-term monitoring studies should also be established to evaluate the effectiveness of such management measures in order to state with greater confidence whether the conservation objectives of the protected features of OSPAR MPAs have been achieved.

For OSPAR MPAs in ABNJs, efforts should continue to further collective arrangements with competent management authorities, including the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the International Seabed Authority (ISA), such that all management recommendations for OSPAR MPAs in ABNJs will be implemented. In addition, Contracting Parties should continue to raise awareness of OSPAR MPAs in ABNJs with relevant stakeholders and interest groups and look to further our scientific understanding of these sites.

(as of 1 October 2021)

CP

WDPAID

OSPAR MPA

Year of Reporting

Jur.

Area (km²)

ABNJ/High Seas

555512236

Antialtair Seamount High Seas MPA

2010

ABNJ

2807

555512237

Altair Seamount High Seas MPA

2010

ABNJ

4 384

555512238

Josephine Seamount High Seas MPA

2010

ABNJ

19 365

555512239

Milne Seamount Complex MPA

2010

ABNJ

20 914

555512240

MAR North of the Azores High Seas MPA

2010

ABNJ

93 572

555512241

Charlie-Gibbs South High Seas MPA

2010

ABNJ

146 029

555557228

Charlie-Gibbs North High Seas MPA

2012

ABNJ

178 094

 

North Atlantic Current and Evlanov Sea basin MPA

2021

ABNJ

595 196

      

Belgium

555557150

SBZ3

2012

TW

57

555557219

Vlaamse Banken , SBZ 1 and SBZ2

2012

TW

749

555557219

Vlaamse Banken , SBZ 1 and SBZ2

2012

EEZ

433

      
      

Denmark

555556910

Agger Tange, Nissum Bredning, Skibsted Fjord og Agerø

2009

TW

166

555556912

Ålborg Bugt, østlige del

2009

TW

1 542

555556913

Ålborg Bugt, Randers Fjord og Mariager Fjord

2009

TW

617

555556916

Anholt og havet nord for

2007

TW

112

555556980

Ebbeløkkerev

2009

TW

1

555556991

Farvandet nord for Anholt

2007

TW

348

555557007

Gilleleje Flak og Tragten

2009

TW

26

555557011

Gule Rev

2009

TW

44

555557018

Havet og kysten mellem Hundested og Rørvig

2009

TW

14

555557019

Havet omkring Nordre Rønner

2007

TW

186

555557022

Herthas Flak

2007

TW

14

555557023

Hesselø med omliggende stenrev

2007

TW

20

555557024

Hirsholmene, havet vest herfor og Ellinge Å's udløb

2009

TW

91

555557050

Knudegrund

2007

TW

8

555557051

Kobberhage kystarealer

2009

TW

6

555557055

Læsø Trindel og Tønneberg Banke

2007

TW

79

555557056

Læsø, sydlige del

2007

TW

260

555557070

Løgstør Bredning, Vejlerne og Bulbjerg

2009

TW

0.03

555557071

Lønstrup Rødgrund

2007

TW

93

555557077

Lysegrund

2007

TW

32

555557100

Nissum Fjord

2009

TW

0.04

555557139

Ringkøbing Fjord og Nymindestrømmen

2009

TW

0.07

555557148

Sandbanker ud for Thorsminde

2007

TW

64

555557149

Sandbanker ud for Thyborøn

2007

TW

64

555557152

Schultz og Hastens Grund samt Briseis Flak

2007

TW

49

555557161

Skagens Gren og Skagerrak

2009

TW

1 285

555557181

Strandenge pä Læsø og havet syd herfor

2007

TW

628

555557193

Sydlige Nordsø

2007

TW

36

555557207

Thyborøn Stenvolde

2009

TW

37

555557218

Vadehavet med Ribe Å, Tved Å og Varde Å vest for Varde

2009

TW

1 137

555641546

Havstrategiomraade A

2021

TW

167

555690820

Havstrategiomraade B

2021

TW

4

555690821

Havstrategiomraade C

2021

TW

9

555690827

Havstrategiomraade F

2021

TW

79

555556912

Ålborg Bugt, østlige del

2009

EEZ

239

555556991

Farvandet nord for Anholt

2007

EEZ

2

555557007

Gilleleje Flak og Tragten

2009

EEZ

22

555557011

Gule Rev

2009

EEZ

429

555557023

Hesselø med omliggende stenrev

2007

EEZ

21

555557042

Jyske Rev, Lillefiskerbanke

2009

EEZ

242

555557047

Kims Top og den Kinesiske Mur

2007

EEZ

262

555557055

Læsø Trindel og Tønneberg Banke

2007

EEZ

8

555557056

Læsø, sydlige del

2007

EEZ

105

555557152

Schultz og Hastens Grund samt Briseis Flak

2007

EEZ

160

555557161

Skagens Gren og Skagerrak

2009

EEZ

1 412

555557178

Store Middelgrund

2009

EEZ

21

555557179

Store Rev

2009

EEZ

109

555557193

Sydlige Nordsø

2007

EEZ

2 437

555557207

Thyborøn Stenvolde

2009

EEZ

42

555690823

Havstrategiomraade D

2021

EEZ

63

555690826

Havstrategiomraade E

2021

EEZ

77

555690827

Havstrategiomraade F

2021

EEZ

191

     

          France

555544124

Iroise

2008

TW

3 431

555544125

Baie de Somme

2006

TW

34

555544126

Estuaire de la Seine

2007

TW

120

555544127

Domaine de Beauguillot

2006

TW

5

555544128

Baie de Saint-Brieuc

2006

TW

11

555544129

Sept-Îles

2007

TW

4

555544130

Moëze-Oléron

2007

TW

64

555544131

Banc d'Arguin

2006

TW

25

555544132

Baie de l'Aiguillon

2006

TW

25

555556909

Abers - côtes des Légendes

2012

TW

227

555556918

Archipel des Glénan

2012

TW

587

555556920

Au droit de l'étang d'Hourtin-Carcans

2012

TW

501

555556922

Baie de Morlaix

2012

TW

266

555556923

Baie de Seine occidentale

2012

TW

454

555556925

Bancs des Flandres

2012

TW

906

555556926

Bassin d'Arcachon et Cap Ferret

2012

TW

227

555556931

Belle Île en mer

2012

TW

174

555556956

Côte Basque rocheuse et extension au Large

2012

TW

78

555556957

Côte de Granit rose - Sept-Îles

2012

TW

721

555556958

Côte de Granit rose - Sept-Îles

2012

TW

695

555556989

Falaise du Bessin Occidental

2012

TW

13

555557009

Golfe du Morbihan, côte Ouest de Rhuys

2012

TW

206

555557033

Îles de Groix

2012

TW

284

555557062

Littoral Cauchois

2012

TW

46

555557079

Marais du Cotentin et du Bessin - Baie des Veys

2012

TW

287

555557082

Massif dunaire Gavres-Quiberon et zones humides associées

2012

TW

68

555557117

Panache de la Gironde

2012

TW

565

555557118

Panache de la Gironde et plateau rocheux de Cordouan

2012

TW

565

555557122

Pertuis charentais

2012

TW

3 177

555557123

Pertuis charentais - Rochebonne

2012

TW

3 228

555557125

Plateau rocheux de l'île d'Yeu

2012

TW

120

555557129

Portion du littoral sableux de la côte Aquitaine

2012

TW

501

555557135

Récifs et marais arrière-littoraux du Cap Lévi à la Pointe de Saire

2012

TW

154

555557141

Roches de Penmarc'h

2012

TW

458

555557153

Secteur de l'île d'Yeu

2012

TW

1 752

555557196

Tatihou - Saint-Vaast-la-Hougue

2012

TW

8

555557212

Trégor Goëlo

2012

TW

910

555557229

Estuaire de la Seine

2012

TW

85

555557232

Trégor Goëlo

2012

TW

912

555556920

Au droit de l'étang d'Hourtin-Carcans

2012

EEZ

5

555556925

Bancs des Flandres

2012

EEZ

216

555557117

Panache de la Gironde

2012

EEZ

388

555557118

Panache de la Gironde et plateau rocheux de Cordouan

2012

EEZ

388

555557122

Pertuis charentais

2012

EEZ

1 385

555557123

Pertuis charentais - Rochebonne

2012

EEZ

4 967

555557129

Portion du littoral sableux de la côte Aquitaine

2012

EEZ

5

555557153

Secteur de l'île d'Yeu

2012

EEZ

704

      

Germany

555557099

Niedersächsisches Wattenmeer

2006

TW

3 458

555557145

S-H Seabird Protection Area

2005

TW

1 619

555557146

S-H Wadden sea National Park

2005

TW

4 602

555556937

Borkum-Riffgrund

2008

EEZ

625

555556969

Doggerbank

2008

EEZ

1 696

555557194

Sylt.Aussenr.-Oestl.Dt.Bucht

2008

EEZ

5 600

      

Iceland

555556983

Eldey

2012

TW

14

555557031

Hverastrytur i Eyjafirdi

2008

TW

0

555557032

Hverastrytur i Eyjafirdi, north of Arnanesnöfum

2008

TW

1

555557137

Reynisdjup, coral reef

2008

TW

9

555557190

Surtsey

2012

TW

66

555557025

Hornarfjardardjup, coral reef 1

2008

EEZ

8

555557026

Hornarfjardardjup, coral reef 2

2008

EEZ

37

555557159

Skaftardjup, coral reef 1

2008

EEZ

7

555557160

Skaftardjup, coral reef 2

2008

EEZ

22

555586883

Lónsdjóp

2014

EEZ

77

555586884

Lónsdjóp-Papagrunn landgrunnskantur

2014

EEZ

78

555586885

Papagrunn

2014

EEZ

17

555586886

Rósagarður

2014

EEZ

164

555586887

Skeiðarárdjóp

2014

EEZ

65

 

    

Ireland

555556924

Ballyness Bay

2009

TW

12

555556936

Blasket Islands

2009

TW

227

555556962

Cummeen Strand/Drumcliff Bay (Sligo Bay)

2009

TW

49

555556975

Dundalk Bay

2009

TW

52

555557005

Galway Bay Complex

2009

TW

144

555557044

Kenmare River

2010

TW

433

555557045

Kilkieran Bay and Islands

2010

TW

213

555557048

Kingstown Bay

2009

TW

1

555557078

Malahide Estuary

2009

TW

8

555557096

Mullet/Blacksod Bay Complex

2009

TW

141

555557097

Mulroy Bay

2009

TW

32

555557106

North Dublin Bay

2010

TW

15

555557140

Roaringwater Bay and Islands

2009

TW

143

555557210

Tralee Bay and Magharees Peninsula, West To Cloghane

2009

TW

116

555557211

Tramore Dunes and Backstrand

2009

TW

8

555556930

Belgica Mound Province

2009

EEZ

411

555557027

Hovland Mound Province

2009

EEZ

1 086

555557103

North-West Porcupine Bank

2009

EEZ

715

555557168

South-West Porcupine Bank

2009

EEZ

329

      
      

Netherlands

555557101

Noordzeekustzone

2009

TW

1 416

555557220

Vlakte van de Raan

2009

TW

199

555557221

Voordelta

2009

TW

819

555557049

Klaverbank

2009

EEZ

1 240

555557231

Doggerbank

2009

EEZ

4 698

      

Norway

156009

Jomfruland

2018

TW

117

183284

Raet

2018

TW

608

555556934

Bjørnøya

2009

TW

2 786

555556940

Breisunddjupet

2012

TW

44

555557041

Jan Mayen

2012

TW

4 242

555557052

Korallen

2012

TW

4

555557155

Selligrunnen

2005

TW

1

555557185

Sularevet

2005

TW

12

555557191

Svalbard East

2009

TW

55 331

555557192

Svalbard West

2009

TW

20 022

555557227

Ytre Hvaler

2010

TW

340

555560032

Færder

2018

TW

340

555592852

Saltstraumen

2013

TW

25

555592853

Tauterryggen

2013

TW

44

555592854

Framvaren

2013

TW

6

555625764

Gaulosen

2016

TW

11

555625765

Jærkysten

2016

TW

143

555625766

Rødberg

2016

TW

14