Jan 19, 2016

New Marine Conservation Zones Announced

23 new areas along the UK coast were announced on 17th of January as the latest Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) to be awarded environmental protection by the Government, extending the country’s ‘Blue Belt’ to cover over 20% of English waters (out to 200 nautical miles) and providing vital protection for the diverse array of wildlife in our seas. 


The Blue Belt is made up of different types of Marine Protected Areas. These are Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs), Special Areas of Conservation (SACs), Special Protection Areas (SPAs), Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) and Ramsar sites. MPAs are just one of the measures being taken to ensure clean, healthy, safe, productive and biologically diverse seas.


Defra have already made good progress in designating a network of sites in the Blue Belt. Over 17% of UK waters (including England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) and almost a third of English inshore waters (out to 12 nautical miles) are now within MPAs, including the MCZs designated this week. Marine Conservation Zones protect a range of nationally important marine wildlife, habitats, geology and geomorphology. They were introduced to halt the deterioration of the UK’s marine biodiversity and provide legal means to deliver the UK’s international marine conservation commitments.


Inshore MCZs just designated include:


  • West of Walney MCZ
  • Allonby Bay MCZ

The designations orders, factsheets and maps of the new MCZs can be found here:


Natural England’s advice to Defra on the sites can be found here:


In addition to new MCZs, Defra will be consulting on the Morecambe Bay and Duddon Estuary SPA.


Defra are seeking to add to the Blue Belt through a third and final tranche of MCZs. This document outlines the principles and approaches that will be taken to select the final tranche of sites. 

Solway Firth Partnership