New MPAs: Marine Conservation Zones

The Marine and Coastal Access Act was approved by the House of Lords on November 11th and received Royal Assent on November 12th, 2009. It contains provisions for the creation of a new type of Marine Protected Area (MPA) in England, called a Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ). MCZs will protect nationally important marine wildlife, habitats, geology and geomorphology and can be designated anywhere in English inshore and UK offshore waters. In English inshore and English, Welsh and Northern Irish offshore waters, MCZs will be identified through the Marine Conservation Zone Project. In Welsh inshore waters there will be a small number of MCZs afforded a high level of protection. Sites will be selected to protect not just the rare and threatened, but the range of marine wildlife.

Regional MPA Project Boundaries MapThe Marine Conservation Zone Project
The Marine Conservation Zone Project has been established by Defra, Natural England and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee to identify and recommend Marine Conservation Zones to Government.

The Marine Conservation Zone Project will be delivered through four English Regional Projects covering the South-West (Finding Sanctuary Project), Irish Sea (Irish Sea Conservation Zones), North Sea (Net Gain Project) and Eastern Channel (Balanced Seas Project) (see map for the areas of sea the projects will work in). They will work with sea users and interest groups to identify Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) and provide recommendations for sites within their regions to Government.

JNCC have produced a document on the Marine Conservation Zone Project. This will be periodically updated as the project progresses. Contact details for the four Regional Projects are also available from the JNCC website.

For more information on the different types of Marine Protected Areas, please see this document, produced by JNCC.