Marine Conservation Zones

The Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 allows for the creation of Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs). MCZs protect a range of nationally important marine wildlife, habitats, geology and geomorphology, and can be designated anywhere in English and Welsh territorial and UK offshore waters.  Lundy Island, a former Marine Nature Reserve in the Bristol Channel became the UK's first MCZ in January 2010. More information on Marine Conservation Zones is available on Defra's website.

To date 50 sites were designated within English waters. We have produced Site Information Centres for MCZs that are designated in offshore waters, or cross the territorial/offshore boundary.

• East of Haig Fras MCZ
• Farnes East MCZ
• Fulmar MCZ
• Greater Haig Fras MCZ
• Offshore Brighton MCZ
• Offshore Overfalls MCZ
• North East of Farnes Deep MCZ (formerly Rock Unique)
• North-West of Jones Bank MCZ
• South-West Deeps (West) MCZ
• South Dorset MCZ
• Swallow Sand MCZ
• The Canyons MCZ
• Western Channel MCZ
• West of Walney MCZ


The MPA Interactive Map shows the location of all MCZs that are currently designated.


The greater Pipefish (Syngnathus acus) is found around all British coasts © Paul KayCommon brittlestars (Ophiothrix fragilis) are common throughout UK seas © Paul KaySpiny lobster (Palinurus elephas) climbing a rocky reef © Paul Kay


MCZs in English inshore and English, Welsh and Northern Irish offshore waters have been identified through the Marine Conservation Zone Project.

In Welsh inshore waters Marine Conservation Zones are being identified through the Marine Conservation Zone Project Wales. Sites are selected to protect not just the rare and threatened, but the range of marine wildlife found in UK waters. Skomer, a former Marine Nature Reserve, was designated as the first MCZ in Welsh territorial waters in December 2014.

In September 2013 The Marine Act (Northern Ireland) 2013 was enacted which makes provisions for MCZs in Northern Irish territorial waters. Strangford Lough, a former Marine Nature Reserve has been designated as Northern Ireland's first Marine Conservation Zone. A consultation on a further four proposed MCZs is now open, and will close on 11 March 2016. To find more information and make a response, please see the consultation website.