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Natura 2000 coverage in Europe's seas

Page Last modified 08 Dec 2020
4 min read
Natura 2000 data refers to information reported by Member States in 2019. Europe's seas are defined by the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) marine regions (in bold below) and subregions.

The tables indicate the total number of sites, the surface area and the percentage cover of Natura 2000 sites in the European marine regions, sub-regions and the relative distance belts from the coast. The first table addresses the EU28 while the second table below addresses the EU27. 

Table 3.1 EU28 surface area, percentage cover of Natura 2000 areas in European marine regions / sub-regions and percentage cover in nearshore (0-1 NM),  territorial (1-12 NM) and offshore waters (12-END[1]).

European regional seas
and sub regions (sensu MSFD)
EU part
of sea (km2)
Area covered
by N2K (km2)
Total  N2K sites (no)EU waters
covered by N2K
(%)
Nearshore zone
(0-1 NM)
covered by N2K (%)
Territorial zone
(1-12 NM)
covered by N2K (%)
Offshore waters zone
(12 NM -END)
covered by N2K (%)
Baltic Sea 368,694 57,070 950 15.5 32 17 9
North East Atlantic Ocean 4,082,844 381,014 1,114 9.3 55 31 7
Celtic Seas 930,965 95,896 459 10.3 52 25 6
Greater North Sea, incl. the Kattegat and the English Channel 491,511 119,415 394 24.3 62 36 19
Bay of Biscay and the Iberian Coast 803,205 132,294 204 16.5 61 38 14
Macaronesia 1,857,163 33,409 73 1.8 31 29 1
Mediterranean Sea 1,224,297 109,031 1,225 8.9 45 17 4
Western Mediterranean Sea 659,585 61,164 534 9.3 54 21 5
Ionian Sea and the Central Mediterranean Sea 254,476 19,215 173 7.6 54 26 1
Adriatic Sea 119,851 6,897 344 5.8 39 6 0
Aegean-Levantine Sea 190,386 21,755 188 11.4 36 11 6
Black Sea 64,415 9,192 44 14.3 85 51 6
Total 5,740,250 556,306 3,332[2] 9.7 45 23 6


[1]
The outer limit is defined by the 200NM boundary from the coast (possibly coinciding with formally recognized EEZ or EPZ boundaries) or by the presence of a boundary defined by an agreed treaty or by the median line. The limit corresponds to the boundary of the maritime area submitted by EU Members States under MSFD Articles 8, 9 and 10.
[2] The total number of sites is lower than the sum of sites at regional/sub-regional level, because some sites span across different regions or sub-regions.  

Table 3.3 EU27 surface area, percentage cover of Natura 2000 areas in European marine regions / sub-regions and percentage cover in nearshore (0-1 NM),  territorial (1-12 NM) and offshore waters (12-END[1]) considering EU 27 Member states.

European regional seas
and sub regions (sensu MSFD)
EU part
of sea (km2)
Area covered
by N2K (km2)
Total  N2K sites (no)EU waters
covered by N2K
(%)
Nearshore zone
(0-1 NM)
covered by N2K (%)
Territorial zone
(1-12 NM)
covered by N2K (%)
Offshore waters zone
(12 NM -END)
covered by N2K (%)
Baltic Sea 368,694 57,070 950 15.5 32 17 9
North East Atlantic Ocean 3,381,337 264,463 837 7.8 57 32 6
Celtic Seas 494,709 37,722 286 7.6 54 12 6
Greater North Sea, incl. the Kattegat and the English Channel 226,260 61,038 285 27.0 64 41 18
Bay of Biscay and the Iberian Coast 803,205 132,294 204 16.5 61 38 14
Macaronesia 1,857,163 33,409 73 1.8 31 29 1
Mediterranean Sea 1,224,297 109,031 1,224 8.9 45 17 4
Western Mediterranean Sea 659,585 61,164 533 9.3 54 21 5
Ionian Sea and the Central Mediterranean Sea 254,476 19,215 173 7.6 54 26 1
Adriatic Sea 119,851 6,897 344 5.8 39 6 0
Aegean-Levantine Sea 190,386 21,755 188 11.4 36 11 6
Black Sea 64,415 9,192 44 14.3 85 51 6
Total 5,038,743 439,755 3,054[2]  8.7 43 22 5

[1] The outer limit is defined by the 200NM boundary from the coast (possibly coinciding with formally recognized EEZ or EPZ boundaries) or by the presence of a boundary defined by an agreed treaty or by the median line. The limit corresponds to the boundary of the maritime area submitted by EU Members States under MSFD Articles 8, 9 and 10.
[2] The total number of sites is lower than the sum of sites at regional/sub-regional level, because some sites span across different regions or sub-regions.

NM = nautical miles; END = equidistance or 200 nautical miles.

The methodology and the procedure used for selecting the marine Natura 2000 sites from the 2018 tabular and spatial data are those illustrated in the EEA report  'Spatial analysis of marine protected area networks in Europe's seas' (2015).

Natura 2000 sites located outside the 200 NM in the North East Atlantic Ocean are not considered.

For the definition of Europe's seas, see the data set

The table was produced by European Topic Centre on Inland, Coastal and Marine Waters, ETC/ICM. For full details, please see the report Spatial analysis of marine protected area networks in Europe's seas.  

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