Marine Protected Areas


What are Marine Protected Areas?

MPAs are zones of the sea and coasts where wildlife is protected from damage and disturbance.
It may be necessary to have restrictions on some human activities which damage or disturb marine habitat and species within these areas, to protect the features for which sites were designated.

What is the MPA network?

The UK Government’s vision is of ‘clean, healthy, safe, productive and biologically diverse oceans and seas’. Central to delivering this vision is the establishment of a well-managed ecologically coherent network of MPAs. The UK has committed to establishing an MPA network under several agreements, including the OSPAR Convention, World Summit of Sustainable Development and Convention on Biological Diversity.

The sites in the network will work together to provide more benefits than an individual area could on its own. The network will contain different types of MPAs, of various sizes, with a range of protection levels, protecting important and representative habitats and species, connected through movements of adults and larvae.

MPAs are essential for healthy, functioning and resilient ecosystems. Through developing a well-managed ecologically coherent MPA network, supported by wider environmental management measures, we will promote the recovery and conservation of marine ecosystems.

What types of MPAs are there?

There are several types of MPAs according to how, why and by whom they were designated. The Sussex IFCA district contains a suite of different MPAs, with the role of Sussex IFCA in the management of MPAs focussed on the following designations:

Under the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 (MCAA) and the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010, IFCAs have duties to manage these sites and further their conservation objectives


OSPAR sites (designated under the Oslo/Paris Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic) and RAMSAR sites (wetlands of international importance designated under the Ramsar Convention) are also types of MPA designations which exist within the English Channel, but for thepurposes of the role of IFCAs, the objectives of these types of MPAs are achieved through the implementation of IFCAs duties in MCZs, EMSs and SSSIs.

In addition to the statutory designated sites above Sussex IFCA has a role in supporting and managing voluntary protected areas, these include:

Marine Sites of Nature Conservation Importance (mSNCI)

In Sussex, Local Authorities and agencies have identified twenty four marine Sites of Nature Conservation Importance (mSNCIs) to protect their habitats and their wildlife, and to encourage sensitive management. MSNCIs are voluntary designations and their success depends on the responsible actions and co-operation of all concerned.

For further information on mSNCIs

Voluntary Marine Conservation Area (VMCA)

VMCA is a designation in the United Kingdom for areas of coastline which are of particular wildlife and scientific value that enjoy a level of voluntary protection. VMCAs are run by a range of organisations and steering groups and are often supported by community or volunteer groups. VMCA's often aim to promote theSeashore Code as a means for the public to treat the coastline with care. In Sussex we have the Seven Sisters VMCA, part of which is contained within Beachy Head West first tranche MCZ.

For more information on Seven Sisters VMCA

Click here for our interactive habitat map showing all Marine Protected Areas in the District

Further information about how IFCAs manage fishing activities in Marine Protected Areas can found in the  Management of Inshore Marine Protected Areas by the IFCAs 2011 to 2018 booklet  or on the  interactive Association of IFCAs MPA management webpage .

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