Marine Protected Areas

Marine Conservation Zones

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Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) are a relatively new MPA designation, created under the Marine and Coastal Access Act (2009). These sites are created to protect wildlife, habitats, geology and geomorphology of national importance. They aim to conserve the diversity of nationally rare, threatened and representative habitats and species around the English coast.

Unlike other marine protected areas, MCZs will also take social and economic factors into account when identifying potential sites, alongside the best available scientific evidence.

Similar schemes are operating in Northern IrelandWales and Scotland in order to create a UK wide network of marine protected areas.

The MCZ process

In November 2009 four regional projects were established by the Statutory Nature Conservation Bodies (SNCBs) – Natural England and JNCC – to map potential MCZ sites with the aid of stakeholders. This resulted in a two year public consultation process involving thousands of stakeholders, and concluded with the regional projects submitting their final recommendations to the SNCBs. The regional projects final recommendation was to establish 127 Marine Conservation Zones in English seas.

You can see the recommendations which were published on the regional project websites (now in the National Archives):

 * Finding Sanctuary (south-west)

 * Irish Sea Conservation Zones (Irish Sea)

 * NetGain (North Sea)

 * Balanced Seas (south-east)

A phased approach to the designation of MCZs has been taken, with the first tranche of proposed MCZs going through a further public consultation between December 2012 and March 2013. This resulted in the designation of 27 MCZs around England.

The public consultation on the designation of tranche 2 of the MCZs closed in April 2015, and all 23 proposed sites were designated in January 2016.

Defra have announced 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.

Proposed MCZs in KEIFCA district and their current status

Sites Designated

Tranche 1

  • Medway MCZ
  • Thanet Coast MCZ
  • Folkestone Pomerania MCZ
  • Blackwater, Crouch, Roach and Colne MCZ

Tranche 2

  • Swale MCZ
  • Dover to Deal MCZ
  • Dover to Folkestone MCZ

Sites on hold

  • Goodwin Sands MCZ
  • Offshore Foreland MCZ
  • Thames Estuary MCZ
  • Kentish Knock MCZ
  • Hythe Bay MCZ

Sites refused

Stour and Orwell MCZ

Management in MCZs

Once a site has been designated as an MCZ by Defra, Natural England and the JNCC will advise the regulators about the vulnerability of the features included within the designation order. For commercial fisheries the relevant regulators are either the Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities, for sites from mean high water to 6 nautical miles, or the Marine Management Organisation for sites between 6 and 12 nautical miles from shore.

The relevant regulator will carry out an assessment of commercial fishing activities which are currently occurring within the MCZ to establish whether they are having have a negative impact on the conservation objectives of that site. The relevant regulator will then carry out a public consultation on appropriate management measures before they are implemented.