JNCC’s advice on offshore Marine Conservation Zones 2015-2017

Assessing progress towards an ecologically coherent network of MPAs in Secretary of State Waters


In 2014 Defra commissioned JNCC to undertake a piece of work on ‘Assessing progress towards an ecologically coherent network of MPAs in Secretary of State Waters’. The analysis considered the progress of the Marine Protected Area network and those remaining MCZ site options that would fill any remaining gaps in the existing MPA network around England and offshore waters of Wales & Northern Ireland, assuming all sites and features going to be consulted on during the 2015 Tranche Two MCZ consultation were designated. This analysis was a follow on piece of work to the advice given to Defra in 2013 on how the remaining regional MCZ project recommendation (rMCZ) site options could help fill ‘big gaps’ in the existing network of MPAs around England and offshore waters of Wales & Northern Ireland (report available here). This work was undertaken in order to help assist further future decisions on filling any remaining gaps in the MPA network within Secretary of State waters, once a second tranche of sites were designated. The report for the analysis can be downloaded from the document download box at the bottom of this page.


Following on from the aforementioned assessment, JNCC were asked to undertake a further piece of work in 2016 to review what is protected within the existing MPA network and then consider the potential contribution of other site options for a third tranche of Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ) designations if required. These potential site options were determined by Defra, JNCC and Natural England on the basis of whether they filled a shortfall and had sufficient data to likely be taken forward for possible designation. These options were only selected to inform this network assessment and to better understand their potential contribution to the network. This will help visualise any remaining shortfalls that may require identifying further areas for designation beyond those remaining areas recommended by the Regional MCZ Projects. Two papers have been published; one describing the methodology used for the assessment, and the results from the assessment are published in a second paper. Both of these papers can be downloaded from the document download box at the bottom of this page.


Due to the outcomes of the above network analysis, JNCC and Natural England were asked by Defra to develop an approach to identifying potential site options to complete Defra’s contribution to the MPA network in Secretary of State waters around England and offshore waters of Northern Ireland. This was because not all existing rMCZs could fill shortfalls identified in the current MPA network. This approach is set out in the paper ‘Identifying potential site options to help complete the Marine Protected Area network in the waters around England’. This can be downloaded from the document download box at the bottom of this page.


A supporting paper has also been produced which assesses the contribution of other area-based measures to address shortfalls in the MPA network in Secretary of State waters. This document can also be downloaded from the document download box at the bottom of this page.


On the 14th and 15th November 2016, JNCC will hold a two day workshop to discuss Tranche Three and the development of site options in offshore waters. Further information on this workshop and relevant materials can be accessed on the Tranche Three MCZ Workshop webpage.