Consultation display

Inquiry into the management of marine protected areas in Wales

Response to the consultation

Evidence submitted in response to this Consultation

Purpose of the consultation

Marine Protected Area (MPA) is the collective term for all forms of protected nature conservation sites in the marine and coastal environment. Sites can be designated under domestic, European and international legislation. MPAs can have different levels of restriction, for example, No Take Zones where many activities are prohibited, through to multi-use MPAs where lots of activities can be allowed if they do not have an adverse impact on the wildlife and habitats for which the site has been designated.  Wales does not have any No Take Zones, only multi-use MPAs. MPAs are the primary tool to conserve biodiversity whilst balancing the multi-use nature of the marine environment through the sustainable management of activities and natural resources.   


The seas around Wales make up over half the area of Wales. There are 128 MPAs covering over 5500 square miles, or 35% of the Welsh seas and 75% of the coastline. This includes sites such as Skomer Marine Conservation Zone in Pembrokeshire that has been an MPA in some form for over 25 years.


In its inquiry into marine policy in Wales, the Fourth Assembly’s Environment and Sustainability Committee expressed concern about the level of priority given to the marine environment by the Welsh Government. Amongst its recommendations, the management of Marine Protected Areas was highlighted as a priority area for improvement.


The Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee called for evidence to support its inquiry into the management of marine protected areas in Wales.


Objectives for the inquiry

  • To assess the management of Welsh marine protected areas with a view to identifying opportunities to maximise the economic, social, environmental and cultural benefits that can be derived from them.
  • To understand what the implications of leaving the European Union will be for marine protected areas and to identify any issues that will need to be addressed during the exit process.


Submissions focussed on the objectives and addressed the following questions:

  • Has the management of Welsh seas received sufficient resource and strategic direction to enable sustainable management that supports the well-being of current and future generations?
  • How should Area Statements, to be developed by Natural Resources Wales, cover Welsh seas?
    • (For example should the sea adjoining each welsh Local Authority be included in its Area Statement, or should the marine environment be considered separately in one or more marine Area Statements?)
  • How well are Wales’ MPAs currently being managed?
    • (This can include aspects such as the condition of sites, staffing to deliver management, surveillance and enforcement activities and the data on the extent of activities taking place in MPAs)
  • What are the key issues affecting the effective management of multi-use MPAs?
  • Do existing Welsh MPAs currently provide the right protection for the conservation of Welsh marine biodiversity?
  • What lessons can be learnt from current MPA management activity in Wales (including designation, implementation and enforcement)?
  • Are there MPA examples or practices elsewhere that Wales can learn from?
  • The majority of Wales’ MPAs are designated under the EU Habitats Directive. How should the Welsh Government’s approach to MPA management take account of the UK’s decision to leave the European Union?
  • If you had to make one recommendation to the Welsh Government from all the points you have made, what would that recommendation be?
  • Do you have any other comments or issues you wish to raise that have not been covered by the specific questions?



The Committee has also prepared a survey, which is available online.


Disclosure of Information

You can find details about how we will use your information at

Supporting documents

Contact details

Should you wish to speak to someone regarding this consultation, please use the below contact details:

Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee
Welsh Parliament
Cardiff Bay
CF99 1SN

Telephone: 0300 200 6565