Marine protected areas in Europe's seas

Indicator Assessment
Prod-ID: IND-377-en
Also known as: MAR 004
Created 10 Dec 2015 Published 18 Dec 2015 Last modified 18 Dec 2015, 03:17 PM
Topics: , ,
By the end of 2012, EU Member States had designated 5.9 %, or a total of 338 000 km 2 , of their seas as part of a complex network of marine protected areas. As such, the EU had not reached Aichi target 11 of 10 % coverage of its seas. However, the target was reached in certain regional seas (Baltic Sea, the Greater North Sea including the Kattegat and the English Channel, and the Western Mediterranean Sea) 

Key messages

By the end of 2012, EU Member States had designated 5.9 %, or a total of 338 000 km2, of their seas as part of a complex network of marine protected areas.

As such, the EU had not reached Aichi target 11 of 10 % coverage of its seas. However, the target was reached in certain regional seas (Baltic Sea, the Greater North Sea including the Kattegat and the English Channel, and the Western Mediterranean Sea) 

What is the coverage of Marine Protected Area networks in Europe´s seas?

Europe's seas and selected characteristics of EU marine protected area networks

Note: The table shows the areal extent of Europe's seas and selected characteristics of EU marine protected areas (MPAs), namely area coverage, percentage of coverage and total number of sites. Data excludes the Icelandic Sea, Norwegian Sea and the Barents Sea

Data source:

Data provenance info is missing.

Downloads and more info

Coverage of marine protected areas in Europe's seas

Note: The table shows the coverage of marine protected areas (MPAs) by regional sea and by distance zone from the coastline.

Data source:

Data provenance info is missing.

Downloads and more info

Marine protected area coverage by regional sea

Note: This map shows the percentage marine protected area (MPA) coverage in Europe's regional seas. It also shows the distance to the Convention on Biological Diversity Aichi target 11 of 10 % coverage. The distance from the network coverage to the coverage target is reported with respect to three different distance buffer zones: 0-1 NM, 1-12 NM and 12 NM - END of national waters (NM = nautical miles, END = outer limit of MPA assessment area).

Data source:

Data provenance info is missing.

Downloads and more info

Coverage of marine protected area networks

In 2012, marine protected area (MPA) networks covered almost 340 000 km2, or 5.9 % of Europe's seas (Fig. 1). 

A substantial number of new national sites are being added, including significant numbers in British, Spanish and Portuguese waters. These additional sites will be bringing EU MPA coverage significantly closer to the Convention on Biological Diversity target of 10 % coverage of MPAs. This figure excludes 'other effective area‑based conservation/spatial protection measures'. 

Distance to Aichi target of 10 % coverage

In regional seas, only three out of ten European regional seas, namely the Baltic Sea, the Greater North Sea and the Western Mediterranean Sea, have so far met the Aichi target of 10 % coverage (Fig. 2, Fig. 3). However, if the regional sea MPA network coverage is measured with respect to the three buffer distance belts (0-1 NM, 1-12 NM, 12 NM-END, (NM = nautical miles, END = outer limit of MPA assessment area), large differences in coverage are observed between coastal and off shore waters.

The 10 % coverage target has been achieved in the near shore area (0-1 NM) in all regional seas. Closer analysis shows differences in reaching the Aichi target in the remaining parts of territorial waters (1-12 NM): three out of eight regional seas reach the 10 % coverage (the Greater North Sea, the Bay of Biscay and Iberian coast, and the Western Mediterranean Sea). Only two regional seas (the Greater North Sea and the Western Mediterranean Sea) reach 10 % coverage in offshore areas (12 NM-END).

These results indicate that conservation efforts in establishing MPAs have been applied more in coastal waters than in offshore waters.

Overall, since 1992, the EU has put a lot of effort into establishing MPA networks and with considerable success. Networks have been created at national, regional and European level. European countries have even expanded efforts internationally and agreed to create MPAs in the High Seas. However, the rationale underpinning the designations and their specific objectives is often related to a specific site rather than the network as a whole (EEA, 2015).

References

EEA, 2015. Marine protected areas in Europe's seas — An overview and perspectives for the future.  EEA Report, no 3/2015. http://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/marine-protected-areas-in-europes


Indicator specification and metadata

Indicator definition

This indicator measures the percentage of the marine protected area network coverage obtained by combining the distribution of marine sites established by EC Member States as reported under Natura 2000 (N2K), the Common Database on Designated Areas (CDDA) and Regional Sea Convention databases in order to indicate the overall network distance to the 10 % coverage target.

The combined percentage covered is calculated with respect to the MPA assessment area of Europe's regional seas as reported by each EU Member State in the MSFD reporting process. The distance from the network coverage to the coverage target is also reported with respect to three different distance buffer zones: 0-1 NM, 1-12 NM and 12 NM - END of national waters (NM = nautical miles, END = outer limit of MPA assessment area).

Units

% cover of MPA network in European regional seas and per distance buffer zone.


Policy context and targets

Context description

The Convention on Biological Diversity has defined a Strategic Plan for the period 2011-2020. This plan consists of five strategic goals, including twenty Aichi Biodiversity Targets. Among the latter, Aichi target 11 foresees that by 2020, at least 10 % of coastal and marine areas are conserved through effectively and equitably managed, ecologically representative and well connected systems of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures.

Article 21 of the MSFD requires a progress report on protected areas to be sent to the European Council and Parliament by the Commission. This indicator can provide concrete input to such a process.

Targets

The Convention on Biological Diversity Aichi Target 11 states: By 2020, at least [...] 10 % of coastal and marine areas, especially areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem services, are conserved through effectively and equitably managed, ecologically representative and well-connected systems of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures, and integrated into the wider landscape and seascape.

Related policy documents

  • CBD COP7 Decision 28 Protected Areas
    Decision 28 on Protected Areas from the 7th Conference of the Parties (COP7) to the Convention on Biological Diversity.
  • Marine Strategy Framework Directive 2008/56/EC
    Directive 2008/56/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 June 2008 establishing a framework for community action in the field of marine environmental policy (Marine Strategy Framework Directive)

Methodology

Methodology for indicator calculation

The MPA network coverage evaluation was conducted using those marine sites identified in the spatial statistics on MPA distribution presented in the EEA Technical Report (2015,b), which is based on data reported by Member States at the end of 2012. The statistical MPA analysis identified Natura 2000 marine sites, based on a combination of a tabular query for marine features (i.e. Habitats Directive habitats and species, marine percentage cover, presence of marine generic habitats), whose output was subsequently overlaid against the EEA coastline so as to obtain the spatial selection of marine Natura 2000 sites lying within each MSFD reported sub region. CDDA marine sites were instead selected spatially from sites falling seaward of the coastline and whose marine surface area extension represented more than 5 % of the total surface area declared for the site. Further methodological details, both for the marine site identification and for the assessment areas definition, can be found in the EEA technical report (EEA, 2015b).

The indicator refers to the coverage of the entire MPA network present in Europe’s seas, as inferred from the data stored in the following databases: Natura 2000 network, the nationally designated sites recorded in the Common Database on Designated Areas (CDDA) and Regional Sea Convention (RSC) areas encompassing EU waters. Datasets were considered altogether and coverage computation refers to all overlapping protected surfaces. Spatial protected area coverage was merged by sub-region and buffer belt. The resulting MPA surface coverage by sub-region and buffer belt was then related to the respective sub-region surface and buffer belt.

Methodology for gap filling

Updates of the indicator will be based on information reported to the CDDA and Natura 2000 databases. No further gap filling is envisioned.  

Methodology references

Uncertainties

Methodology uncertainty

The selection of marine sites for databases containing both terrestrial and marine protected areas (Natura 2000 and CDDA) was carried out using different approaches because of the absence of information on marine features in the CDDA tabular database.

Data sets uncertainty

The spatial/tabular datasets used are affected by some inconsistencies:

  • The quality of national coastlines provided by EU Member States is often poor and different to the MPA ‘coast to sea' boundary. This generates a number of spatial 'slivers' that may strongly affect the resulting MPA surface area estimation.
  • The estimation error also occurs where there is a shift from the declared coast-line and the real coastline position. This type of problem can also occur where there is a geographical shift of the MPA polygon.
  • The compilation of the fields in the CDDA tabular datasets (until 2012) was rather limited and did not allow verification, via tabular cross-check, of the likelihood of a site having marine characteristics. The future database will include the fields indicating if a site is marine, terrestrial or mixed. Efficient compilation of these fields will allow a finer network estimation.
  • The availability of a more detailed spatial dataset, together with the tabular data fields described above, will make the indicator outcome more reliable in future iterations.

Rationale uncertainty

No uncertainty has been specified.

Data sources

Generic metadata

Topics:

Marine Marine (Primary topic)

Biodiversity Biodiversity

Tags:
marine protected areas
DPSIR: Response
Typology: Efficiency indicator (Type C - Are we improving?)
Indicator codes
  • MAR 004
Dynamic
Temporal coverage:
2012
Geographic coverage:
Baltic Sea, Black Sea, Macaronesia, Mediterranean Sea, North Atlantic Ocean

Contacts and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Johnny Reker

EEA Management Plan

2015 1.6.1 (note: EEA internal system)

Dates

Frequency of updates

Updates are scheduled every 3 years
Filed under:
European Environment Agency (EEA)
Kongens Nytorv 6
1050 Copenhagen K
Denmark
Phone: +45 3336 7100