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News article30 June 2023Directorate-General for Environment

Biodiversity: EU supports strengthening of largest marine protected area in the North-East Atlantic

As of today, the largest marine protected area in the North-East Atlantic will benefit from greater conservation objectives.

Image of coral reef with turtles

As of today, the largest marine protected area in the North-East Atlantic will benefit from greater conservation objectives.  The Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic (OSPAR) has decided to broaden the conservation scope of the North Atlantic Current and Evlanov Sea basin Marine Protected Area (‘NACES MPA’), located in the high seas of the North Atlantic, in international waters, to protect the seabed and a number of species and habitats. The European Union, represented by the European Commission, is a contracting party to the OSPAR Convention. This extension is a tangible contribution to the Global Biodiversity Framework agreement which commits to protect at least 30% of the global ocean by 2030. It also supports the recently adopted agreement on protecting biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ).

Virginijus Sinkevičius, Commissioner for Environment, Fisheries and Ocean said:

Today we have good news for the Atlantic Ocean. Together with our partners in OSPAR, we expanded the conservation scope of this large marine protected area in international waters, which is almost the size of France. By protecting and restoring seabird populations, marine biodiversity and the integrity of the seabed and ecosystems, we take an important step towards fulfilling our commitment to protect at least 30% of the sea by 2030. This is critical to protect global marine biodiversity and enhance its resilience to climate change.

Marine Protected Areas are an essential tool for the protection and restoration of marine biodiversity and for the long-term sustainability of seas and oceans. They maintain and improve the provision of a wide range of ecosystem services and related socio-economic benefits, including food security.

Established in 2021 to protect seabirds, the NACES marine protected area now has greater conservation objectives which will also cover the seabed and other species and habitats such as coral gardens and deep-sea sharks. The set up and management of this high seas marine protected area will be supported by the recently adopted agreement on protecting biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction. The extension, which contributes to EU ambitions and commitments under the EU biodiversity strategy and the Global Biodiversity Framework, is based on a thorough scientific assessment and follows comprehensive and targeted stakeholder consultation.


The OSPAR Convention aims to protect the North-East Atlantic maritime area against the adverse effects of human activities to conserve marine ecosystems and, when practicable, restore marine areas, which have been adversely affected. It has 16 Contracting Parties: Belgium, Denmark, the EU, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, Luxembourg and Switzerland. The Convention was open for signature at the Ministerial Meeting of the Oslo and Paris Commissions (thus OSPAR) in Paris on 22 September 1992 and entered into force on 25 March 1998.

The NACES marine protected area is the largest one in the OSPAR network and covers nearly 600,000km2 (an area the size of France). It is the eighth collectively designated MPA in the area beyond national jurisdiction within the OSPAR maritime area.

For more information

Marine Strategy Framework Directive

Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction

EU and the Global Biodiversity Framework


NACES MPA designation 2021


Publication date
30 June 2023
Directorate-General for Environment

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