Marine Conservation Zones

What are Marine Conservation Zones?

Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) are a form of Marine Protected Area, designated under s. 116 of the Marine and Coastal Access Act, 2009, to conserve a range of marine flora or fauna, marine habitats and features of geological or geomorphological interest.

The Southern IFCA district contains nine Marine Conservation Zones:

  1. Chesil Beach and Stennis Ledges MCZ

  2. South of Portland MCZ

  3. Purbeck Coast MCZ

  4. Studland Bay MCZ

  5. Poole Rocks MCZ

  6. Southbourne Rough MCZ

  7. The Needles MCZ

  8. Yarmouth to Cowes MCZ

  9. Bembridge MCZ

Explore underwater in Dorsets MCZs using the websites below:

Poole rocks 
Lyme Bay
Chesil and Stennis Ledges
Purbeck Coast

What are Southern IFCA's duties in MCZs?

Under s. 154 of the Marine and Coastal Access Act, 2009, Southern IFCA has a duty to further the conservation objectives of MCZs. The Conservation Objectives, or General Management Approach, are established in the designation orders for the sites. On a site by site basis these objectives refer to the feature for which the site is designated and establishes a ‘maintain’ or ‘recover’ objective’ against the feature(s).

Management of fishing activities

Southern IFCA has a duty under s.154 of the Marine and Coastal Access Act, 2009 to manage fisheries in order to further the conservation objectives of marine conservation zones. Management measures for MCZs will be determined on a site-by-site basis, and will depend on what the site has been designated for. Like protected sites on land, there will be MCZs where some activities are not allowed but others can occur. MCZs may have seasonal restrictions on activities rather than a complete ban. Not all MCZs will need the same management measures and there is no presumption that any specific type of activity will be restricted. There may however, be some sites where many activities are restricted.

Management measures for MCZs will be determined on a site-by-site basis, and will depend on what the site has been designated for. Like protected sites on land, there will be MCZs where some activities are not allowed but others can occur. MCZs may have seasonal restrictions on activities rather than a complete ban. Not all MCZs will need the same management measures and there is no presumption that any specific type of activity will be restricted. There may however, be some sites where many activities are restricted.

Details on management of the MCZs can be found on our website: Managment of MPAs

How have the sites been designated?

MCZs have been designated in three phases. The first 27 zones were designated under Phase 1 on 21st November 2013, including the Chesil Beach and Stennis Ledges MCZ and Poole Rocks MCZ in the Southern IFCA district. A further 23 sites were designated in the second phase on 17th January 2016, including The Needles MCZ in the Southern IFCA district. The Authority has undertaken assessments for all fishing activity/feature interactions within these three sites and, where necessary management has been introduced, largely through the spatial prohibition of bottom towed fishing gears.

On the 31st of May 2019 the Government announced a third phase of designations, with 41 new MCZs in waters around England, bringing the total number of sites to 91. This included six new sites within the Southern IFCA district. In addition, 12 new features in existing MCZs were also designated, including two existing sites in the Southern IFCA district. According to the Government “the third phase essentially completed the UK Blue Belt and our contribution to the ecologically coherent network in the North East Atlantic in terms of the representation of species and habitats.”

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