Offshore Brighton MPA


Status: Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ)Farnes East MCZ Boundary


The Offshore Brighton MCZ is located in the eastern English Channel, approximately 45km south of Selsey Bill, West Sussex. The seabed is predominantly coarse sands, gravel and shingle with areas of exposed bedrock and mixed sediments.


The site protects 862km2 of seabed with a diverse range of species found living within and on top of the sediments. Hydroids, bryozoans and sponges colonise the boulders and cobbles, where hermit crabs and starfish also thrive. An assortment of burying animals such as worms, sea anemones and bivalves are commonly found living within the mixed sediments.


More detailed site information can be found on the Summary tab.

Map displaying MPA boundary and associated protected

feature data. Visit the JNCC MPA Mapper to further

view and explore data for this MPA.


Legislation behind the designation: Marine and Coastal Access Act (2009)


Protected features:

EUNIS Code: Protected Features Feature Type General Management Approach
(to achieve conservation objective)
A4.1: High energy circalittoral rock Broad-Scale Habitat

Recover to favourable condition

A5.1: Subtidal coarse sediment Broad-Scale Habitat

Recover to favourable condition

A5.4: Subtidal mixed sediments Broad-Scale Habitat

Recover to favourable condition


The acquisition of new data may result in updates to our knowledge on feature presence and extent within this site. The most up to date information is reflected on the map on this page and in JNCC’s MPA mapper and the evidence underpinning this can be viewed in the Evidence tab.


Conservation objectives
The overarching conservation objectives for the designated features of all protected sites in UK offshore waters is to ensure they either remain in, or reach favourable condition. The ability of a designated feature to remain in, or reach favourable condition can be affected by its sensitivity to pressures associated with activities taking place within or in close proximity to a protected site.


Site Timeline

The diagram below is a summary of the key milestones involved in the selection and designation of Offshore Brighton MCZ.  More detail can be found within the Relevant Documentation and Annex 3 of the JNCC Advice on possible offshore MCZs considered for consultation in 2015.

Offshore Brighton MCZ timeline

Relevant Documentation

The documents referred to below and any other historical documents relating to Offshore Brighton MCZ were produced during the selection and designation process and therefore may be out of date.  This Site Information Centre is the most up to date source of information for this MPA, and will reflect any additional information gathered since these documents were produced. Further information about the Marine Conservation Zone site selection process and historic MCZ advice is available on the JNCC MCZ pages.





Last updated: October 2017


Information for this site summary was adapted from  JNCC’s pre and post consultation advice  for Tranche Two MCZs (January 2016), in conjunction with the MCZ site report  produced by Cefas for the MB0120 survey (September 2015). Please refer to these documents for further details and information sources. The summary also incorporates any further information gathered since these documents were produced.


Site overview
Offshore Brighton MCZ lies in the deeper waters of the Eastern-English Channel, 45km from the coast, and located to the south of the Offshore Overfalls MCZ . It’s south-eastern and south-western corners meet the median line due south of Brighton where the water depths range between 40m and 80m. The site includes coarse and mixed sediments with areas of exposed rock. Offshore Brighton MCZ was originally recommended by the Balance Seas Regional MCZ Project in 2011 and is considered to be an important representation of high energy circalittoral rock within the 75-200m depth bracket.  The site was prioritised for additional evidence collection in a verification survey undertaken by JNCC and Cefas in 2012 to improve confidence in the presence and extent of broad-scale habitats and habitat Features of Conservation Importance (FOCI).


The survey collected sediment samples, video tows and camera stills data as well as opportunistic acoustic data within the site.  The survey work confirmed the presence of broad-scale habitats (BSH) High energy circalittoral rock and subtidal mixed sediments along with an additional BSH; subtidal coarse sediment. These three broad-scale habitats were designated as protected features within the site in January 2016. The broad-scale habitat (BSH) subtidal coarse sediment  is the most widespread, occupying 58% of the MCZ and located mainly in the western area. The BSH subtidal mixed sediments  is found in the eastern third of the site and occupies 27% of the area. The regional sediment distribution is influenced by a large scale geomorphological feature; the English Channel Palaeovalley System. The BSH high energy circalittoral rock  is exposed where a tributary channel system merges with the deeper paleovalley in the north west of the site and occupies 15% of the total MCZ. 


Offshore Brighton MCZ was included in the proposed network because of its contribution to Ecological Network Guidance (ENG) criteria to BSH, and its added ecological importance. From the 2012 survey a total of 167 infaunal and 63 epifaunal taxa were recorded. This data was reviewed by the JNCC in 2014 and statistically analysed to reveal the potential biotopes present within the site.


From the infaunal data analysis JNCC concluded the community across the site could be matched to A5.451 Polychaete-rich deep Venus community in offshore mixed sediments  which is a diverse community particularly rich in polychaetes (worms) with significant numbers of venerid bivalve (Venus clams). The epifaunal community appeared to be dominated by two biotopes including A5.444 Flustra foliacea  and Hydrallmania falcata on tide-swept circalittoral mixed sediment , dominated by the hornwrack (Flustra foliacea ) and the hydroid Hydrallmania falcata   represents part of a transition between sand-scoured circalittoral rock and a sediment biotope. The second possible biotope was identified as A5.445 Ophiothrix fragilis and/or Ophiocomina nigra brittlestar beds on sublittoral mixed sediment , dominated by brittlestars (hundreds or thousands per meter2). The full report of this analysis will be published shortly. Further detail on the evidence for this MCZ/can be found on the Evidence tab.


Site location:  Coordinates for this MCZ can be found in the Designation Order listed in the Relevant Documentation.

Site area:  862km2 which is roughly ten times the size of Brighton.

Site depth range:  40m to 80m.

Charting Progress 2 biogeographic region - Eastern Channel.


Site boundary description
The location and shape (a large rectangle) of the site was chosen to capture the features and areas of biodiversity richness described above. However, given the comparatively large area of ocean involved, it was possible through discussions at the stakeholder meetings to design the boundaries so that socio-economic impact to both the UK and French fishing fleets that use this area extensively was reduced. The lower boundary was set to avoid a heavily used French scallop fishing area to the south of the site, and the site was moved as much as possible to the west to avoid areas to the east heavily used by both UK and Belgian mobile fleets (Offshore Task Group 2, Mar 2011 ).




Last updated: October 2017


The full overview of the various data used to support site identification along with information on confidence in feature presence and extent are available in the  Scientific advice on possible offshore Marine Conservation Zones considered for consultation in 2015  and the Scientific advice on offshore Marine Conservation Zones proposed for designation in 2015/16. JNCC will be adding relevant survey data for this MPA to the JNCC Interactive MPA Map  in due course. Data for this MCZ have been collected primarily through JNCC funded or collaborative surveys and some through other data sourcing.  Data gathered provide direct evidence confirming the presence of the protected features within the site.


Survey and data gathering

  • Offshore Brighton MCZ MB0120 Survey (2012) - JNCC collaborated with Cefas on an MCZ site verification survey to Offshore Brighton MCZ, funded through the MB0120 Defra data collection. Video, images, acoustic data and grab samples were collected across the site. 


Data analysis reports

  • EUSeaMap (2016) - Provides supporting information on the presence and extent of high cirrcalittoral rock, subtidal coarse sediment and subtidal mixed sediments from a predictive seabed habitat map of European waters.
  • JNCC Community Analysis of Offshore Brighton MCZ data (2016) - JNCC undertook a community analysis of grab and video data to establish biotopes present. The following European Nature Information System (EUNIS) biotopes were assigned after multivariate analsysis of the 2012 survey data. The Marine Habitat Classification for Britain and Ireland (version 15.03, JNCC 2015) has been provided in brackets: EUNIS Level 5 biotopes:

A5.451 Polychaete-rich deep Venus community in offshore mixed sediments (SS.SMX.OMx.PoVen

A5.445 Ophiothrix fragilis and/or Ophiocomina nigra brittlestar beds on sublittoral mixed sediment(SS.SMx.CMx.OphMx)
A5.444 Flustra foliacea and Hydrallmania falcata on tide-swept circalittoral mixed sediment (SS.SMx.CMx.FluHyd).

Additional relevant literature

References for further supporting scientific literature consulted during the identification of this site can be found in the (MCZ) annexes of our advice. Please be aware that although these sources contain information in relation to this MPA, they do not necessarily represent the views of JNCC.


Knowledge gaps
If you are aware of any additional data or relevant scientific papers for this site not listed in the relevant documentation, or the Offshore Brighton Site Summary Document listed in the relevant documents section, or the annexes of the MCZ advice documents, please contact JNCC.


Conservation Advice


Last updated: October 2017


Conservation objectives

Conservation objectives set out the desired state for the protected feature(s) of an MPA. The conservation objectives for the protected features of an MPA are useful if you are:

  • Planning measures to conserve the site and its protected features;
  • Monitoring the condition of the protected features; and/or
  • Developing, proposing or assessing an activity, plan or project that may affect the protected features of the site.


The Conservation Objectives for the protected features of the MCZ are:

Subject to natural change, the High energy circalittoral rock, Subtidal coarse sediment and Subtidal mixed sediments features are to remain in or be brought into favourable condition, such that it's:

  • Extent is stable or increasing; and
  • Structures and functions, its quality, and the composition of its characteristic biological communities are such as to ensure that it is in a condition which is healthy and not deteriorating.

More information regarding the conservation objectives for the protected features of the Offshore Brighton MCZ is available in the site Designation Order , In addition to the conservation objectives above, General Management Approaches (GMAs) have been set by JNCC for each feature which provide a view as to whether a feature needs to be maintained in or be brought into favourable condition i.e. recover, based on our knowledge about its condition. For more information on the General Management Approach for MCZs see Defra’s MCZ Designation Explanatory Note .


The GMAs for the protected features of the MPA are:

  • High energy circalittoral rock: Recover to favourable condition;
  • Subtidal mixed sediments: Recover to favourable condition; and
  • Subtidal coarse sediment: Recover to favourable condition.

More information on the GMA for the features in Offshore Brighton MCZ is provided in  Scientific advice on possible offshore Marine Conservation Zones considered for consultation in 2015  and the Scientific advice on offshore Marine Conservation Zones proposed for designation in 2015/16.


Advice on operations 

Section 127 of the Marine & Coastal Access Act (2009) states that JNCC may provide advice and guidance regarding matters capable of damaging or otherwise affecting the protected features of an MCZ. JNCC has published the following advice on activities which are capable of damaging or otherwise affecting protected features in MCZs:

JNCC provides a list of activities occurring within the Offshore Brighton MCZ and information on management within the Activities and Management tab. JNCC has provided this to aid the cumulative assessment of impacts of human activities within the site.  While every attempt has been made to ensure this information is accurate and kept up-to-date, the list is not to be considered exhaustive or definitive. The list does not, for example, include activities occurring off-site which may also be capable of affecting the protected features.


For the most up-to-date information about the biological communities present within the site and their spatial distribution, please see the Evidence tab. Sensitivity information for the protected features within the site can be found in a Technical Report  commissioned by Defra to support the MCZ designation process. The information contained within the Evidence tab, the Activities and Management tab, the Technical Report and the advice listed above on activities which are capable of damaging or otherwise affecting the protected features in MCZs are useful if you are:

  • Carrying out any activity that may impact the protected features of the site and need to find out how to operate within the law;
  • An authority providing advice on specific proposals; and/or 
  • An authority responsible for putting management measures in place.


Our scientific understanding of the ecology of the protected features of the site and how activities can affect them may change over time. Similarly the activities taking place within the site may also change. JNCC’s conservation advice will be kept under review and will be periodically updated to reflect this. Further information on JNCC’s conservation advice work is available on the offshore MPA conservation advice webpage .


Activities and Management


Last updated: April 2017


Management status: Progressing towards being well managed


The vulnerability assessment conducted for this site suggests it is unlikely to be moving towards its conservation objectives, but directed site condition monitoring data are needed to improve our confidence in this assessment. Progress is ongoing with regards to the recommendation of a fisheries management proposal to the European Commission.


This site forms part of the UK's contribution to the OSPAR commission’s network of MPA's and the Emerald network established under the Bern Convention. As the UK is a member of the OSPAR commission, JNCC are committed to ensuring that the OSPAR MPA network is ‘well-managed’ by 2020.


JNCC consider ‘well-managed’ to mean the timely progress of an MPA around the ‘MPA management cycle’. This involves:

1)    The documentation of appropriate management information - conservation objectives, advice on activities capable of affecting the protected features of a site, and spatial information on the presence and extent of the protected features of a site.

2)    The implementation of management measures - management actions considered necessary to achieve the conservation objectives of a site.

3)    Site condition monitoring programmes – collecting the information necessary to determine progress towards a sites conservation objectives.

4)    Assessment of progress towards conservation objectives – using available information to infer whether or not a site is moving towards or has achieved its conservation objectives.


The sub-sections that follow provide an account of the progress of Offshore Brighton MCZ around each of these four stages in the MPA management cycle:

  • The documentation of appropriate management information
  • The conservation objectives and advice on activities capable of affecting the conservation status of the protected feature of this site are available under the conservation advice tab.
  • JNCC are in the process of improving our MPA conservation advice packages. Further information is available on our conservation advice pages.
  • Spatial information on the presence and extent of the protected feature of this MPA is available via JNCCs MPA mapper.
  • JNCC are in the process of developing downloadable MPA data packages where appropriate permissions to share datasets are in place.


The implementation of management measures

This section details progress towards the implementation of management measures for activities considered capable of affecting the conservation status of the protected features of the site. The protected features of the site are considered to be sensitive to pressures associated with fishing, telecommunication cables and military activity.



  • There is evidence of mobile demersal, mobile pelagic and static gear effort within the MPA and UK and non-UK registered vessels have been active in the area.
  • The site falls outside the UK’s 12 nautical mile limit and is to be exclusively managed under the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). In accordance with Article 18 of the revised CFP, requests for management will be developed jointly between the UK Government and any Member States with a direct management interest in the area affected.
  • The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) are the lead authority regarding the implementation of, and compliance with, any measures to managing fishing activity. Further information on progress is available via MMO webpages.


Telecommunications cables

  • Two telecommunications cables currently cross through the MPA.
  • Cables are largely an unregulated activity in offshore waters depending upon the type of cable being laid (or maintained), where it is being laid between and whether the cable is part of a larger development (which may be regulated). Any cable not directly associated with an energy installation does not require a marine license beyond 12 nautical miles.
  • JNCC encourages early discussion from operators regarding any plans related to new or existing cables, and encourages the undertaking of non-statutory environmental impact assessments for new or existing cable projects to assess their effect on the protected features of the MPA.


Military activity

  • Low level military activity may take place within the MCZ. The MoD have incorporated all designated MPAs into their Environmental Protection Guidelines (Maritime) and wider Marine Environmental and Sustainability Assessment Tool. These guidelines are used to manage MOD activity to minimise the associated risks to the environment.


Site condition monitoring

Site condition monitoring surveys are yet to take place within this MPA. Further information will be made available under the monitoring tab in due course.


Progression towards conservation objectives

No long-term condition monitoring data is available to determine whether the MPA is moving towards or has reached its conservation objectives. The site’s protected features have ‘recover’ conservation objectives, based on a vulnerability assessment that examined exposure to activities associated with pressures to which the protected features of the site are considered sensitive. This suggests that the site is unlikely to be moving towards its conservation objectives but site condition monitoring data would improve our confidence in this assessment. Further information will be provided under the assessment tab as it becomes available.




Last updated: October 2017


JNCC is currently leading on the development of a strategy for biodiversity monitoring across all UK waters, to include MPA monitoring. For MPAs, data and evidence collected from monitoring activities will aim to:

  • Enable assessment of condition of the features within sites;
  • Enable assessment of the degree to which management measures are effective in achieving the conservation objectives for the protected features;
  • Support the identification of priorities for future protection and/or management; and,
  • Enable Government to fulfil its national and international assessment and reporting commitments in relation to MPAs and help identify where further action may be required .


Information on monitoring of this MPA will be provided when it becomes available.



Last updated: October 2017


Assessments of the condition of designated features in offshore MPAs are required to report against our legal obligations. Ideally these assessments should be based on observed data, and then measured against targets for predefined indicators. However, for MPAs in offshore waters we do not always have the appropriate information to be able to do so. This is particularly true for seabed habitats, which are the main type of feature designated for protection in offshore MPAs. 


To address these challenges, JNCC has been an active partner in the development of new approaches and tools for the assessment of habitats and species for a variety of national and international status reports. They include the second cycle of the Conservation Status Assessment reports under the EU Habitats Directive, Charting Progress 2 (CP2) and the OSPAR Quality Status Report (QSR). JNCC continues to develop and pilot tools for the assessment of marine habitats and species in offshore waters to improve the quality and transparency of our offshore MPA assessments, and contribute to the monitoring of marine biodiversity in UK waters. These tools cover methods for producing interim assessments of site features and their responses to pressures, as well as developing more robust indicators for determining condition of the features.


Under the UK Marine & Coastal Access (2009), JNCC is required to report to Ministers on the degree to which the conservation objectives of the protected features of Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) have been achieved.  Every 6 years from 2012, the Marine Act requires a report setting out how MCZs have performed against their conservation objectives, as well as the effectiveness of the network as a whole. The assessments of features within MPAs will also feed into six yearly reports on the state of the marine environment under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD), which aims to achieve Good Environmental Status (GES) by 2020.



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