The OSPAR Commission has adopted recommendations to further extend the protection and conservation status of three marine species and one intertidal habitat as they are particularly vulnerable in the North-east Atlantic. These are the Azorean limpet (Patella aspera), the sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus), allis shad (Alosa alosa) and intertidal mussel (Mytilus edulis) beds on mixed and sandy sediments.
Allis shad and sea lamprey, which are present in UK waters, are protected under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan, and listed under the Bern Convention and the Habitats Directive. Allis shad, which is considered nationally rare is present in the Thames Estuary, as is sea lamprey during migration, which takes place between March and June. Historically, these fish were abundant before 1920 and declined due to the effects of pollution.
Intertidal mussel beds, which are also common in the UK, are composed of layers of living and dead mussels, bound together by threads secreted by the mussels and include an assemblage of associated flora and fauna. In many locations, intertidal mussel beds are also within the Annex I habitats listed in the EC Habitats Directive and therefore given protection through the designation of Special Areas of Conservation. These intertidal mussel communities and habitats are considered to be particularly vulnerable within the North-East Atlantic.
OSPAR also announced that a further 77 Marine Protected Areas (MPA), covering more than 89,397 km2 were added to the OSPAR Network of MPAs in 2014. This network now comprises 413 MPAs, protecting nearly 6% of the OSPAR Maritime Area which is far greater than the global average of 2.8%.