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 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. Their proposals included six new potential sites in the Irish Sea. The Government held a 6-week public consultation asking for people to share their views on these new sites. During this time we encouraged our members, supporters and anyone who loves the sea to get involved and respond.

We also responded to the consultation with local knowledge, expertise and evidence for all sites in the Irish Sea, both inshore and offshore, at a local, regional and national level. We were broadly supportive of the Government's ambition, but emphasised that the sites not only need to be designated and managed correctly, to give our marine wildlife the best possible chance of recovery.

We still need you to show your love for the sea- you can join our growing team of ‘Friends of Marine Conservation Zones’ and help to ensure our marvellous marine life gets the protection it needs. We all need healthy seas, for the benefit of people and wildlife!

 Become a Friend of Marine Conservation Zones today! 

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