Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) are a type of Marine Protected Area. They will protect areas that are important to conserve the diversity of nationally rare or threatened habitats and/or species and those places containing habitats and/or species that are representative of the biodiversity in our seas.
Defra is running a public consultation seeking views on proposals for the designation of Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) in English inshore and English and Welsh offshore waters. The consultation will run until midnight on 31 March 2013. It gives stakeholders the opportunity to comment on the proposals for site designation and the underpinning evidence and provide any additional evidence on the proposed designations before they are finalised. We encourage all stakeholders to use this opportunity to make their views heard.
The evidence received from the consultation, the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) and Natural England advice submitted in July 2012 and other recent evidence will be evaluated and taken into consideration before Ministers make their final decisions on which sites to designate in the first tranche in 2013.
The Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 (Part 5) enables Defra Ministers to designate and protect Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs). These are a type of marine protected area, which will exist alongside European marine sites [Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Special Protected Areas (SPAs)], SSSIs and Ramsar sites to form an ecologically coherent network of marine protected areas. Similar schemes are operating in Wales and Scotland and soon in Northern Ireland to contribute to a UK wide network of Marine Protected Areas.
Lundy Island in the Bristol Channel, a former Marine Nature Reserve, became the first MCZ in January 2010.
In 2009 the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) and Natural England set up a project to give sea-users and interest groups (stakeholders), from local fishermen to international corporations, the opportunity to recommend possible MCZs to UK Government through the establishment of four regional MCZ projects. In September 2011, these regional MCZ projects recommended 127 MCZs including 65 reference areas to JNCC and Natural England. The recommended MCZs cover approximately 15% of the Defra marine area (English territorial waters and UK offshore waters adjacent to England, Wales and Northern Ireland).
Natural England and JNCC, as the Government’s advisers on the natural environment, reviewed these recommendations. In July 2012 we submitted our formal advice to Government on the science behind these recommendations, the quality of the ecological data and our views on the overall regional MCZ Project process.
The advice from Natural England and JNCC is being considered alongside the regional project recommendations and will not change any of the outputs from the stakeholder process.
For further information about the advice produced by Natural England and JNCC please email: email@example.com
For further information about the public consultation and next steps please contact Defra: firstname.lastname@example.org
or visit the following websites:
The guidance and protocols followed by the regional MCZ projects, Natural England and JNCC are here: