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The Role of the MMO in European Marine Sites


The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) has no formal role in the designation of European Marine Sites (EMSs), but works with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), Natural England and Joint Nature Conservation Committee to support designation by providing relevant information and data.


The MMO is responsible for coordinating how Defra’s revised approach to managing commercial fisheries in European marine sites is put in place.


The MMO can make byelaws to further the conservation objectives of any EMS in English waters within 12 nautical miles (nm) of the coast. MMO byelaws will normally be used to manage fisheries in EMSs from 6 to 12nm and other non-marine licensable activities from 0 to 12nm. More information on MMO byelaws is available on the byelaw pages of the MMO website.

Marine licensing

The MMO must ensure that the requirements of the Habitats Regulations are met by marine licences and harbour orders. To meet the requirements it may need to perform a Habitats Regulations assessment (HRA) to assess the effects plans or projects requiring a marine licence or harbour order will have on certain protected sites. The plan or project can only be given permission if an adverse effect on those species and habitats can be ruled out.


The MMO is responsible for enforcing a range of measures relevant to EMSs, including MMO byelaws, fishing licence conditions, and Common Fisheries Policy regulations. Enforcement of MCZs will be coordinated through MMO's risk-based enforcement model.