Home page » Background » Understanding marine policy » Conservation and protection designations

Conservation and protection designations

National designations and international conventions have been set in place to protect sea-life.

Convention on Biological Diversity

193 countries have signed up to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) including France, Ireland, UK, and Spain. It was inspired by the world community's growing commitment to sustainable development. Although not legally binding, the agreements made at the CBD Conference of the Parties demonstrates a serious commitment by participating countries and steers policy at an international, EU and national level.


Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-east Atlantic (OSPAR).

OSPAR is the mechanism by which fifteen Governments of the western coasts and catchments of Europe, together with the European Community, cooperate to protect the marine environment of the north-east Atlantic.


The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES)

This body provides information and scientific advice to member-country governments, international regulatory commissions and the Common Fisheries Policy on the protection of the marine environment and the regulation of fisheries.


EU Birds and Habitats Directives

All countries bordering the Celtic Sea*, the Bay of Biscay, Iberian coast and the open ocean areas in the north-east Atlantic are parties to these Directives. Together they form the cornerstone of Europe's nature conservation policy. The Birds and Habitats Directives led to the development of the Natura 2000 network of protected sites and species protection. The Directives aim to protect over 1000 animal and plant species.


North Atlantic Marine Mammal Commission (NAMMCO)

This is an international body for cooperation on the conservation, management and study of marine mammals in the North Atlantic.


Bern Convention

The 1979 Bern Convention on the conservation of European wildlife and natural habitats imposes legal obligations on contracting parties, protecting over 500 wild plant species and more than 1000 wild animal species. The principal aims of the Convention are to ensure conservation and protection of wild plant and animal species and their natural habitats, to increase cooperation between contracting parties, and to regulate the exploitation of those species.


Ramsar Convention

The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, called the Ramsar Convention, is an intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.


Bonn Convention

The Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (also known as CMS or Bonn Convention) aims to conserve terrestrial, marine and avian migratory species throughout their range. It is an intergovernmental treaty, concluded under the aegis of the United Nations Environment Programme, concerned with the conservation of wildlife and habitats on a global scale.


International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL)

Marpol 73/78 is one of the most important international marine environmental conventions. It was designed to minimize pollution of the seas, including dumping, and oil and exhaust pollution.


* includes Western Channel

Net full of Scallops