Stretching from Ceibwr Bay in Pembrokeshire to Aberarth in Ceredigion and extending almost 20km from the coast, Cardigan Bay Special Area of Conservation (SAC) protects the wildlife found in around 1000km2 of sea.

Southern Cardigan Bay is home to an amazingly rich variety of marine animals and plants, from reef-building worms to the celebrated bottlenose dolphins. The area is home to Europe’s largest population of these iconic animals and there are few places where they are more easily seen in the wild.

Cardigan Bay SAC is about more than just dolphins however; its reefs, sandbanks and caves are recognised as being important in their own right, and its population of grey seals and lampreys are also of international importance. The aim of the SAC is to maintain its rich and varied marine life in at least as good a condition as when the site was first designated. This doesn’t mean that we cannot continue to use and enjoy the natural resources of the area, but that any activities have to be carried out sustainably.

The origin of Special Areas of Conservation

The 1992 Rio Earth Summit put biodiversity firmly on the global political agenda. In response, the European Community produced the Habitats Directive. It aims to halt the loss of biodiversity across the European Union by instructing governments to designate Special Areas of Conservation to protect the continent’s most important wildlife sites. Together with areas designated under the Birds Directive these create a continent-wide network of protected sites, known as the Natura 2000 (N2K) network, of which Cardigan Bay SAC forms a small part.