Marine Conservation Zones are a type of protected area at sea where human activity is restricted to protect wildlife & habitats

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Marine Conservation Zones - the story so far

The Government is creating Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) in the seas around England. These ‘zones’ will allow sustainable use of the sea whilst protecting a range of species and habitats found in English waters from damaging activity. 

Map of MCZs in English and Secretary of State Waters, The Wildlife Trusts

Map showing the 50 MCZs in English and Secretary of State Waters. The 27 pink sites were designated in 2013 and the 23 blue sites in 2016.

In November 2013, the Government announced the designation of 27 sites making up the first round of Marine Conservation Zones in English seas. This followed a consultation and two years of stakeholder negotiations (involving fishermen, conservationists, divers, shipping companies and other sea users) which led to recommendations for a network of protected sites at sea.

This was an important first step. But these 27 sites alone (pink sites on our map) are not enough to create the network of protected areas that our seas really need to recover from past damage and declines. In 2013 Defra announced an aim to set up additional two rounds of MCZs in order to complete this network.

In January 2015, Defra announced the consultation into a further 23 potential sites for designation (blue sites on our map). This consultation closed on the 24th April 2015 and Defra announced the designated of all 23 sites on 17th January 2016. You can find out more about the 23 sites designated in Tranche 2 (blue sites) by clicking on the links in the table below:

1. Coquet to St Mary’s 2. Farnes East             
3. Fulmar 4. Runswick Bay
5. Holderness Inshore 6. Cromer Shoal Chalk Beds
7. The Swale Estuary 8. Dover to Deal
9. Dover to Folkestone 10. Offshore Brighton
11. Offshore Overfalls 12. Utopia
13. The Needles 14. Western Channel
15. Mounts Bay 16. Lands End
17. North-West of Jones Bank 18. Greater Haig Fras
19. Newquay and The Gannel 20. Hartland Point to Tintagel
21. Bideford to Foreland Point 22. West of Walney
23. Allonby Bay  


What's next?

Defra announced in January 2016 that they will be consulting on a third and final tranche of sites to complete the network in 2017, with plans to designate by 2018.  There is much work to be done and we will continue to work with Defra, as well as with stakeholders all around the country, to ensure that we achieve the ecologically coherent network of sites needed to allow our waters to recover to Living Seas.


Ocean Giants

We are calling for our Ocean Giants to be protected as part of our ecologically coherent network. In September 2015 we handed 10,109 signatures to the Fisheries Minister, George Eustice MP, calling for MPAs for our marine megafauna. Find out more here.


The Marine Charter

Alongside other environmental charities, 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 around the UK, 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