Marine Conservation Zones

Marine protected areas

Marine Conservation Zones

Paul Naylor

The story so far

In English and non-devolved UK waters, a range of nationally important, rare or threatened habitats and species will be protected as Marine Conservation Zones (MCZ). The UK Government are designating Marine Conservation Zones through a phased approach, with the first 27 sites designated at the end of 2013 and further 23 sites designated in 2016. Although there are a total of 50 Marine Conservation Zones in English and Secretary of State waters, only four of these are in the Irish Sea:

Cumbria Coast  Allonby Bay 

West of Walney  Fylde

The missing links

Unfortunately the marine protected area network is not complete and significant gaps still remain. We - and the Government’s own Scientists -  believe that more Marine Conservation Zones are essential in order to complete the network.

Expanding the 'blue belt' of protection throughout our seas

This June, the Government has announced it's ambition to create 41 more Marine Conservation Zones in the seas around England, adding to the 50 that have already been designated. This includes six new potential sites in the Irish Sea. There is a consultation taking place right now, asking for the general public to share their views on these new sites. We are encouraging our members, supporters and anyone who loves the sea to get involved and respond. We are broadly supportive of the Government's ambition, but we need to make sure that these sites are managed correctly, to give our ocean wildlife the best possible chance of recovery.

Read our response here

We'll soon be launching a campaign to help as many people as possible show their love for the sea and support these new MCZs. In the meantime, why not become a Friend of Marine Conservation Zones and be the first to hear when this campaign goes live? We’ll need each and every one of you to add your voice in support, so become a Friend of Marine Conservation Zones today!

Become a Friend of MCZs

The following areas have been proposed as Marine Conservation Zones and are awaiting designation by the UK Government:

The following sites are also under consideration for protection: Solway Firth, Queenie Corner, and West of Copeland and razorbills are being considered as an additional feature to the existing Cumbria Coast Marine Conservation Zone.

Next steps

In order to complete the network we need to: secure public support for the designation of the 41 proposed Marine Conservation Zones; ensure that the sites are managed correctly; and finally, urge the Government to consider further sites for protection over the coming years. This includes two important sites that have been dropped from this stage of the process:

Mud Hole Slieve na Griddle