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Marine Protected Areas


Esben Moland_OlsenMarine protected areas (MPAs) are areas for which protective, conservation, restorative or precautionary measures have been instituted to protect marine biodiversity, the conservation of ecologically sensitive areas and endangered species and the sustainable management of all human activities including fisheries, research, education and recreation. MPAs constitute a strong management tool and a key starting point to pave the way for Ecosystem-based Management of the marine environment.    

Working Group Aims

The Working Group on MPAs (WG MPAs) aimed to strengthen the research basis to inform, engage and empower stakeholders in planning a network of MPAs by:

  • Profiling and highlighting the key scientific priorities that will inform the implementation of a MPA network and support its management and monitoring processes in Europe.
  • Providing European research programme managers, with a list of key research priorities and recommendations in order to best promote, inform and support the rapid implementation of a network of MPAs in Europe.
  • Providing science based recommendations to assist MPA planners, MPA managers and EU/national decision makers.

Marine Protected Areas-154The output of the Working Group is EMB Position Paper 18 Achieving Ecologically Coherent MPA Network in Europe: Science Needs and Priorities (April 2013)presents science needs and priorities to inform, engage and empower stakeholders in planning networks of MPAs across Europe and beyond. The position paper was officially launched by Working Group Chair Esben Olsen and the EMB Secretyariat at the European Maritime Day 2013 stakeholder conference in Malta on 22 May 2013 (workshop 13, 11:30-13:00). A press release was produced and the full Position Paper can be downloaded here

Since its launch the EMB Secretariat have disseminated the Position Paper to a wide range of marine stakeholders. WG members have also disseminated and presented the Paper at a number of European and International conference. These include the European Commission Expert Group on Marine Protected Areas and Natura 2000 (6 May 2014 and 30-31 October 2014, Brussels), the 18th meeting of the Convention on Biological Diversity SBSTTA (23 - 27 June 2014, Montreal, Canada), IMCC2014 (14-18 August 2014, Glasgow, UK) and the World Park Congress 2014 (12-19 November, Sydney, Australia).

Uptake and Impact

For 2 years after publication, the EMB Secretariat actively disseminated the paper and monitored impact at national, regional, European and international levels.
This was conducted in collaboration with EMB WG members, the wider EMB member organizations and the ESF communications team.
A final impact report (period May 2013 – April 2015) is available here. If you have further feedback on uptake/dissemination opportunities please contact the EMB Secretariat []

Working group membership here


This symposium, organised by the Marine Board Working Group on Marine Protected Areas, the Belgian Federal Science Policy Office (BELSPO) and the Westbanks Consortium, focused on the North Sea as a model system to investigate the use of scientific data in Marine Protected Areas (MPA) planning. Different North Sea states presented their viewpoints on how scientific information underpins the decision process and provided guidelines for the management of MPAs... [more on symposium website]