Marine Conservation Zones

Our marine environment desperately needs help - we need a proper network of protected areas to ensure that the extraordinary diversity of species and habitats in our seas get real protection for the first time. In England, the UK Government is looking at designating Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs). MCZs are a new type of Marine Protected Area, arising from the Marine & Coastal Access Act (2009). These sites will protect the range of fabulous species and habitats that we find in our waters, allowing sustainable use of these sites whilst protecting the habtiats and species within them from damaging and degrading activity. This map shows the sites that Government have, or are in the process of, designating in order to make up this network.

Last November, the Government announced the designation of 27 sites making up the first tranche of Marine Conservation Zones in English seas. This announcement followed a consultation and two years of stakeholder negotiations which led to recommendations for a network of protected sites at sea - of which 27 were designated last year (the green sites on our map).

Although welcome, these 27 sites alone are not enough to create the ecologically coherent network that our seas so badly need in order to provide them with the protection they need to recover from past damage and declines. Defra announced an aim to designate an additional two tranches of MCZs in order to complete this network. 

In February 2014, Defra announced their list of candidate sites for the second tranche. These 37 sites (the amber sites on our map) are those that they are considering consultating on for designation in 2015.                                   

Defra now plan to gather more information about these sites before consulting on a final list at the beginning of 2015. We need your support to ensure that as many of these sites are consulted on and ultimately designated next year.

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Never before, and never again.....


Now is the most important time for UK marine conservation. We have never before, and may never again have such an opportunity to safeguard the remnants of our, once rich, marine habitats and wildlife.

Stay in touch with the campaign and find out how you can help in the future by becoming a Friend of Marine Conservation Zones!

The Marine Charter

Alongside other NGOs, The Wildlife Trusts are promoting the Marine Charter. The aim of this Charter is to gather MP support for a network of Marine Protected Areas, and to show support for the designation of Marine Conservation Zones as part of this process. Find out more about the Charter and which MPs have signed here.