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Taking Marine Protected Areas into account in the context of Marine Spatial Planning


This study aims to provide an overview of the current state and potential marine protected areas within the area investigated in the SIMNORAT and SIMWESTMED projects, and their legal corresponding legal basis at a national and international legislation level.  

Application in MSP:
Type of Issue:
Type of practice:
Stage of MSP cycle:
Cross-border / trans-national aspect:
Coherence with other processes:
Key words:

Questions this practice may help answer:

  • How are MPAs legislated at a national level in sea basins?

Implementation Context: 

This study was developed as a part of a series of case studies under the SIMNORAT and SIMWESTMED projects which sought to explore how transboundary management for MSP is being undertaken in the Atlantic and Western Mediterranean Sea basins.


Aspects / Objectives:

The objective of this study was to provide a view on: 

· Main actors involved on marine conservation (Authorities, technical bodies, NGOs) for each country 

· The MPA categories present in the study area, based on an analysis of legal basis, conservation objectives, management and governance processes or regulations in force. 


This study conducted a desk review which used information from official organisation websites (e.g. United Nations, European Commission and OSPAR), official publications (e.g. National Administrations Reports) and scientific literature.

The structure of the study was the following:
1. Identification of main actors by country 
2. Identification of MPA categories 

Main Outputs / Results:

Main actors by country

-Authorities: Ministère de la Transition Ecologique et Solidaire, Maritime Prefectures, DIRMs, DREAL, DDTM, IFREMER, RNF, Conservatoire du Littoral, Forum des Gestionnaires d’AMP 
-Technical bodies: National Museum of Natural History, L'Agence française pour la biodiversité (AFB) 
-NGOs: Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux (LPO), France Nature Environnement  

-Authorities: Ministry of the Environment and the Protection of Land and Sea 
-Technical bodies: Consiglio Nazionale di Ricerca (CNR) - Istituto per l'Ambiente Marino Costiero (IAMC), ISMAR, ISPRA 
-NGOs: Thethys, Medasset, WWF

-Authorities: Ministry for Sustainable Development, the Environment and Climate Change, Environment and Resources Authority 
-Technical bodies: University of Malta
-NGOs: Nature Trust Malta

-Authorities: The Institute for Nature Conservation and Forests and the Directorate General for Natural Resources, Safety and Maritime Services
-Technical bodies: Portuguese Institute for Sea and Atmosphere, Hydrographic Institute, EMEPC, Academia 
-NGOs: Oceanario de Lisboa, Oceano Azul Foundation, Pong-Pesca, WWF   

-Authorities: Ministerio para la transición ecológica, Ministerio de Agricultura, Pesca y Alimentación, Regional Autonomous administrations   
-Technical bodies: Spanish Institute of Oceanography, Universities, AZTI  
-NGOs: WWF, Seo-Birdlife, Oceana

MPA categories

MPAs present in the SIMWESTMED region

MPAs present in the SIMNORAT region

Relevant international legal conventions

Connection between MSP and marine conservation

The study suggests that MSP can present an opportunity for Member States to address MPAs effectiveness. MSP could support the creation of new MPAs by aiding in the identification of network gaps in species or habitat protection and could also support the enforcement of regulations on uses on existing MPAs. 

The findings of the study suggest that MPAs can serve as a spatial measuring tool for the regulation of uses. This Is due to the fact that MPAs encompass various conservation methods which can sustain the coexistence of activities and multiple uses of the sea, there being a management spatial measure which sets rules for maritime sectors.  


This study gives a methodological framework for the analysis of MPAs at a national and international level within sea-basins in order to develop MSP plans that are coherent with natural protection spatial demands. 

Responsible Entity: 

French Biodiversity Agency

Costs / Funding Source: 



Contact person: 

Neil Alloncle

French Biodiversity Agency (neil[dot]alloncle[at]afbiodiversite[dot]fr)