In December 2022, the UK Government committed under the CBD Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework to effective conservation and management of at least 30% of coastal areas and oceans, with emphasis on areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem functioning and services, as well as restoration of 30% of degraded coastal and marine ecosystems, by 2030.

As part of Defra’s suite of marine protection (MCZs, MPAs, SACs, SSSIs), Ministers have stated there should be some elements that are no‑take zones and managed to an internationally accepted standard of what is a highly protected marine area (HPMA). Three out of the five HPMAs initially proposed and consulted on are being implemented. The Marine Management Organisation is also consulting on proposals to ban bottom trawling in another 13 MPAs in English waters, as part of a programme to protect all 40 English offshore MPAs (out of a total of 178) from harmful fishing activity by 2024.

This POSTnote will provide an overview of evidence of the effectiveness of protection measures to mitigate pressures driving declines in marine biodiversity, and summarise associated challenges including ‘spatial squeeze’ on the various economic activities using marine areas, such as renewable energy infrastructure, and the implementation of marine net gain principles

Work on this briefing commenced in March 2023

To contribute expertise or literature, please e-mail Hazel Cooley at

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POST work programme

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