European Marine Sites

European Marine Sites is an umbrella term describing the marine areas of sites designated under the European Habitats and Birds Directives.

These two Directives require that site selection is based on scientific grounds and do not permit economic or social impacts to influence the choice of their sites or boundaries. However, economic and social factors are taken into account in the management of these sites.

SACs and SPAs can be designated or classified in the inshore and offshore areas of UK waters.

  • SACs protect particular species or habitats of European importance. The JNCC offers more information and a detailed map of the UK's current SACs with marine components.
  • SPAs protect areas  which support large populations of birds. The JNCC offers more information and a detailed map of the UK's current SPAs with marine components.

These marine sites, together with terrestrial  and freshwater sites, form part of the European Natura 200 network of protected areas.