Marine Conservation Zones

What are Marine Conservation Zones?

MCZs are a new type of Marine Protected Area (MPA), designated under the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009.

MCZs protect areas that are important to conserve the diversity of nationally rare, threatened and representative habitats and species. Designation of these zones takes social and economic factors into account, alongside the best available scientific evidence.

For more information on MCZs visit : marine-conservation-zone-designations-in-england

Background legislation

The UK Government’s vision is of ‘clean, healthy, safe, productive and biologically diverse oceans and seas’. Under the Marine and Coastal Access Act (2009), the government committed to designating an ecologically coherent network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) by the end of 2012 (although this date has now slipped). This network will consist of existing MPAs including Special Areas of Conservation (SACs), Special Protected Areas (SPAs), SSSIs and Ramsar sites, and MCZs.

Drivers to create an ecologically coherent network of MPAs include the fulfilment of obligations under the OSPAR Convention (Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic). The UK is also expected to implement networks of MPAs through agreements at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (2002) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (2004).

How were potential sites selected?

Recommendations on where MCZs should be sited involved consulting a range of sea users and interest groups in four different regional projects around England. The group covering the south east was known as Balanced Seas. After over 2 years of discussion, the regional projects submitted their recommendations for MCZ sites to government advisory bodies in September 2011. 127 rMCZs in English territorial waters and offshore waters off Wales and Northern Ireland were recommended, including 65 reference areas.

For more information on the Balanced Seas project visit: 20120502155440/

What sites were proposed off Sussex?

10 MCZs off Sussex were recommended by stakeholders, 7 of which fall within the Sussex IFCA district:

  • Utopia
  • Selsey Bill and The Hounds
  • Offshore Overfalls (small section)
  • Beachy Head East
  • Kingmere
  • Pagham
  • Beachy head west

All the MCZs went out for public consultation between December 2012 and March 2013. The first tranche of sites was announced in November 2013, a second tranche in January 2016 and a third tranche is anticipated to be designated in 2018 to complete the contribution to an ecologically coherent MPA network.

To view an interactive map of recently designated MCZs off Sussex, and all other designated MCZs around the country visit:

Further details on MCZs are available at:

Defra MPA information protecting-and-sustainably-using-the-marine-environment/supporting-pages/ marine-protected-areas

Natural England’s conservation advice conservation-advice-packages-for-marine-protected-areas

Which MCZ sites were designated in 2013?

In November 2013, the Minister designated 27 MCZs in English inshore and English and Welsh offshore waters in the first tranche of sites. Kingmere, Beachy Head West and Pagham Harbour sites were designated off Sussex.

Which MCZ sites were designated in 2016?

In January 2016, a further 23 sites were designated in a second tranche MCZs. Utopia and Offshore Overfalls sites were designated and fall either entirely or partially within the Sussex IFCA District.

Which sites will be designated in the future?

A third tranche of sites are planned to be designated in 2018. Proposed sites for Sussex are Beachy Head East and Selsey Bill and the Hounds.

What activities will be managed within the MCZs?

MCZs will be multiple-use sites, not no-take areas. When an MCZ is designated it does not automatically mean that economic or recreational activities in that site will be restricted. Restrictions on an activity will depend on the sensitivity of species, habitats and other features (for which a site is designated) to the activities taking place in that area and on the conservation objective for those features. Where the general management approach for features being designated is for them to be maintained in favourable condition, any restrictions on existing activities are likely to be limited.

MCZs are being designated in a series of tranches and management measures will be developed once sites are designated. IFCAs are responsible for formulating any potential management measures for fishing activities that may be needed within inshore sites. Natural England is formulating conservation advice packages for MCZs and Sussex IFCA has been working closely with local advisors to inform potential management options. The community is being fully engaged and Sussex IFCA will continue to gather evidence and information relating to MCZs to inform management measures

Current management measures in place will be taken into account when formulating management requirements for sites. For background information on the potential management measures discussed during the stakeholder site selection process, see the Balanced Seas final recommendations reports: 20120502155440/ RSG%20Resources.html

Tranche 1 MCZ consultation

IFCAs have a statutory duty to further the conservation objectives of MCZs and are expected to introduce byelaws regulating fishing activity where necessary. Sussex IFCA is responsible for consulting on fishing activity management options for designated inshore MCZs within their district. The Authority aims to ensure that stakeholders are fully engaged and have a suitable opportunity to comment before any MCZ management measures are agreed with Defra.

The Community Voice Method (CVM) project, described in the following sections, formed the core of Sussex IFCA’s informal consultation on first tranche MCZ management.

Opportunities for the public to input their views on MCZ management measures included:

  • CVM interviews (with representative stakeholders)CVM / MCZ community workshops
  • Direct liaison with Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Officers
  • Sectoral meetings – to discuss impacts on fisheries site users of the preferred management options for Kingmere MCZ indicated by the wider community at the CVM workshops, and details around measures
  • Formal Kingmere MCZ management measures consultation
  • Future informal and formal management measures consultation on remaining first tranche sites

The CVM project, associated interviews and workshops, and all other liaison with stakeholders during the development of potential management measures comprised the ‘pre-consultation’ phase.

If regulatory management measures are formulated they are transposed into a draft IFCA byelaw or regulatory notice and must formally be consulted on prior to agreement on their introduction with Defra. An impact assessment is required to accompany any proposed byelaw or regulatory notice and this document would also be available to the community to comment upon. The byelaw consultation process requires that the Authority’s application for confirmation of a byelaw is advertised for 2 consecutive weeks with a statutory 28 day period within which stakeholders can provide comment. All comments are examined and responded to before submitting the byelaw for confirmation.

Community Voice Method (CVM) project

Leading the process the Sussex IFCA worked with the Marine Conservation Society and an independent consultant on an innovative project which utilises a film-based technique called Community Voice Method, intended to help support management of MCZs in Sussex inshore waters.

Between November 2013 and April 2014 all the filmed CVM interviews were completed, with a total of 41 conducted. People were selected for interview based on their expert knowledge or involvement in relevant industries or sea user groups as well as trying to ensure that as full a range of views and values from across the area as possible was captured. The interviewees represent a wide range of sectors including commercial fishing (mobile, static and line gear fishermen); recreational angling (anglers and charter skippers); government agencies (advisory bodies and regulators); recreational diving; recreational boating and marine archaeology.

Interviews were conducted in Selsey, Chichester, Midhurst, Littlehampton, Shoreham, Brighton, Henfield, Newhaven, Eastbourne, Bexhill, Hastings, Rye and London. Although the interviews principally looked at designated 1st tranche sites management, interviewees had the opportunity to discuss other sites if they wished.

These interviews were used to formulate a 30 minute film which helped inform a series of wider stakeholder workshops held in Sussex at the end of 2014 to develop local MCZ management.

The aim of the project was to engage with community members who have an interest in MCZs and build on all the progress that has already been made towards identifying management measures for MCZs in the region. This project and process is intended to inform the IFCA’s decision-making on management of sites to maximise environmental benefit, satisfy the regulatory framework and the conservation objectives whilst achieving outcomes that balance the needs of sea-users.

For more information on management for designated sites, visit the relevant MCZ site pages on our website:

Kingmere MCZ
Beach Head West MCZ
Pagham Harbour MCZ
Utopia MCZ
Offshore Overfalls MCZ
Selsey Bill and the Hounds MCZBeachy Heast East MCZ

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