Marine Conservation Zones

Marine Conservation Zones

Marine Protected Areas, including Marine Conservation Zones and European protected sites, are one of the most crucial tools for conserving marine wildlife in the UK.

Marine Conservation Zones

The UK Government have designated 132 MCZs in English and Northern Irish waters, with the latest Tranche of designations announced in June 2019. Cornwall boasts 22 MCZs in our waters, protecting some of our most wonderful and important wildlife and habitats, from the iconic Crawfish and Giant Gobies to vibrant underwater rocky reefs and muddy deep seabed.

What is an MCZ?

As a result of the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009, a network of Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) has been created that protect marine species and habitats.

MCZs provide an opportunity to halt and reverse the damage and degradation of the marine environment by controlling the human activities conducted in certain areas. Government has decided that these MCZs will be identified in three key stages, or tranches. 50 MCZs were designated since 2013 and another 41 have been proposed across English waters in 2016, including 14 here in Cornwall. 

We’re delighted that in June 2019 another 41 MCZ have been designed, including 8 more within Cornish waters.

We will be working towards ensuring that these protected areas have appropriate management and legal protection needed for healthy and resilient seas.

Cornwall’s latest Marine Conservation Zones

Off-shore sites:

  • Cape Bank
  • North-East of Haig Fras
  • South of Celtic Deep
  • South of the Isles of Scilly
  • South West Approaches to Bristol Channel
  • South West Deeps (East)

To learn about all the Marine Conservation Zones in the Southwest, please visit The Wildlife Trust’s website [link -…]

European Marine Protected Areas

European Marine Sites are areas at sea that are designated to protect wildlife and habitats that are important at a European level and are created under EU Legislation. There are two types of European Marine Site; Special Protection Areas (SPAs) which protect birds and their essential habitats and Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) which protect other wildlife and important habitats.

Cornwall has 4 Marine Special Areas of Conservation in Cornwall;


3 Marine Special Protected Area designated in Cornish waters;

  • Falmouth Bay to St Austell Bay SPA designated to protect over wintering birds; black-throated diver, great northern diver and slavonian grebe
  • Isles of Scilly SPA designated for lesser Black-backed Gull and Storm Petrel
  • Tamar Estuaries Complex SPA designated for little egret and aovocet
Cuckoo Wrasse on the Manacles, by Matt Slater

Matt Slater