European Marine Sites

Fisheries Management in European Marine Sites

EMS consultation events

In August 2012, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) announced a new approach to the management of fishing activities within European Marine Sites, in order to bring fisheries in line with other licensed activities. This revised approach balances sustainable fisheries with conserving the marine environment, securing a sustainable future for both.

The term ‘European Marine Sites’ (EMS) collectively describes Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Special Protection Areas (SPAs) that are covered by tidal waters and protect some of our most important marine and coastal habitats and species of European importance.

  • Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) contain animals, plants and habitats that are considered rare, special or threatened within Europe.

  • Special Protection Areas (SPAs) are conservation areas concerned with the protection of important bird species.

SACs and SPAs are designated under the EU Habitats and Birds Directives respectively and form part of the European-wide Natura 2000 network of internationally important sites. Each EU Member State has a responsibility to protect these areas.

Defra has been working with stakeholders, including Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities (IFCAs), to revise the approach to the management of commercial fisheries in EMS in English inshore waters to conserve important habitats and species in line with the EU Habitats and Birds Directives.

The approach will be applied to current fishing activities on a risk-prioritised basis. The potential for impacts from different types of fishing activity has been considered for each protected habitat and species (the features) within all EMS, and management actions have been prioritised according to the identified risks. This relates to the traffic light (red, amber, green) system which Defra is using to assess activities within each EMS, where red is high risk, amber is moderate risk and green is low risk.

Defra has determined that sites with features identified as high risk must have management measures in place by the end of 2013, with those considered as moderate to low risk to be undergo further assessment, with any new management to be implemented by the end of 2016. Management measures will likely be in the form of local byelaws. Within the 6 nautical mile limit, IFCAs will take the lead for completing this work.

Map of the EMS within the North Eastern IFCA District, or click on the individual links below.

Within the North Eastern IFCA District, there are three EMS. Click on the links below for a site specific map:


· Tees and Cleveland Coast marine SPA

· Flamborough Head SAC

· Humber Estuary marine SPA/SAC

European Marine sites