East of the Mid Atlantic Ridge and north of the Azores lies the North Atlantic Current and Evlanov Sea basin (NACES) Marine Protected Area (MPA), a vital wintering ground for Puffins breeding in Ireland.
Covering approximately 600,000km2, the site was designated a MPA for seabirds in 2021, under OSPAR, the Regional Seas Convention for the protection of the marine environment in the Northeast Atlantic. Now, BirdWatch Ireland as part of a BirdLife International campaign across multiple countries, are pushing to have this protection extended to include the MPA’s seafloor and so provide greater protection for the site’s diverse range of species and habitats.
Although the MPA was initially designated for seabirds, the site boasts a huge variety of marine biodiversity. Without a protected seafloor, however, the food chains which sustain this biodiversity hotspot and this nature haven as a whole is still at risk. This June, the OSPAR Commission will vote on whether to include the seafloor in the conservation objectives for the site.
If the seafloor is effectively protected, it will help safeguard the food chain for all species; from seabirds to other threatened species including Blue Whales, Leatherback Turtles, Loggerhead Turtles, Atlantic Bluefin Tuna and Basking Sharks. Seafloor protection would also help safeguard unique benthic biodiversity and habitats including Corals, Deep-sea Sponges and seamounts. It will also help to realise the high carbon sequestration potential of the site.
Help us protect NACES from seafloor to sea surface by signing BirdLife International’s petition and showing the OSPAR Commission that you care about the health of our ocean!
Puffins are currently the only known species that, after spending the summer in Ireland, in places like Skellig Michael, then make their way to the NACES MPA for the winter.
However, many other species using the NACES MPA site that have been tracked from seabird colonies across Europe can also be found in Ireland, particularly during the summer months.
Learn more about some of these species from the links below.