Strait of Gibraltar

Year of compilation: 2000

Site description
The Strait of Gibraltar is defined here as the sea area demarcated in the west by a straight line joining Cape Trafalgar on the European coast with Cape Spartel on the North African coast, and in the east by a straight line joining the Rock of Gibraltar on the European coast to Ceuta (enclave of Spain) on the North African coast. It includes international waters and waters under the jurisdiction of the United Kingdom, Spain and Morocco, and is 15 km wide at its narrowest point.

Key biodiversity
Hundreds of thousands of birds that migrate between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic over the sea pass through the Strait of Gibraltar, including highly significant numbers of Calonectris diomedea, Larus audouinii and Fratercula arctica.

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Heavy commercial shipping traffic carries with it the threat of major oil spills (`Other threat', above). 4,900 ha of the territorial waters of the United Kingdom are proposed as a SPA under the EC Birds Directive, and as a SAC under the EC Habitats Directive. Commercial fishing is prohibited in these territorial waters, and protection is afforded to cetaceans, turtles, birds and other marine life.

Protected areas
National Partial International None4,900 ha of IBA covered by Marine Reserve (4,900 ha).

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Strait of Gibraltar. Downloaded from on 23/03/2023.