Marine Conservation Zones

Sea Slug by Jason ArmstrongSea Slug by Jason Armstrong

A public consultation on the promised third (and final) batch of Marine Conservation Zone designations is still awaited, with the 2017-18 timetable in danger of slipping.

Three more Marine Conservation Zones around Kent were designated in January 2016, following the Government's public consultation in early 2015.

The Swale, Dover to Deal, and Dover to Folkestone were among the Government's list of 23 sites which went through to designation in the second batch of designations, joining The Medway Estuary, Thanet Coast, and Folkestone Pomerania as Kent's official Marine Conservation Zones.

Five more sites around Kent were recommended for protection by stakeholders in 2011, and their inclusion in the third batch remains uncertain. 

Kent Wildlife Trust was greatly heartened by the many members, volunteers and supporters who took the time to write a personally-worded letter to Defra in response to the second MCZ consultation, supporting protection of the sites, and completion of the entire marine protected area network as soon as possible. Defra's report on the consultation made a special mention of the support for Marine Conservation Zones by Kent residents.

The consultation documents listed many of Kent Wildlife Trust's Seasearch and Shoresearch surveys as having supplied data to support designation of these sites. Grateful thanks to all our marine survey volunteers whose efforts really make a difference.

We now await the consultation on the promised third batch of designations.

Take a tour around the coast of Kent and Medway to explore our MCZs.

Take our virtual dive tour: 

Dive in from an aerial view of the region and explore the seabed in MCZs around Kent, Sussex, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, with real video footage, 3D virtual dives and a submarine fly-through.

Marine Conservation Zones - a potted history

A national network of 127 Marine Conservation Zones was recommended to Government in 2011 for designation as Marine Conservation Zones under the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009.  These sites were carefully selected during a 2-year consultation process by four regional stakeholder groups containing representatives of all sea users. 

A first batch of 27 Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) was designated in November 2013, and this included three around Kent: The Medway Estuary, Thanet Coast, and Folkestone Pomerania. 

A second batch of 23 MCZs was designated in January 2016, and this included another three around Kent: Dover to Deal, Dover to Folkestone and The Swale. 

The Government has committed to designating one further batch of MCZs, following another consultation, possibly in 2018 though the timetable has been delayed.   

We owe huge thanks to everyone who responded to the public consultations on the first and second batches of MCZs in 2013 and 2015, helping to secure the designation of 50 MCZs in total so far.  These 50 sites fall well short of a full national network of sites, and we will need your help once again when the Government consults on the final batch.  

Marine Conservation Zones around Kent:

Designated in 2013
Medway Estuary
Thanet Coast
Folkestone Pomerania

Designated in 2016
The Swale
Dover to Deal
Dover to Folkestone

Recommended in 2011, but not yet progressed towards designation
Goodwin Sands
Offshore Foreland
Thames Estuary
Kentish Knock East

Decision deferred until 2018
The decision on Hythe Bay MCZ has been deferred until 2018, when we hope that the site will be designated and a suitable management solution reached, so that we can take proper care of the rare and very special wildlife in the Bay and ensure it can continue to underpin a healthy local fishery into the long-term future.

Kent Wildlife Trust will, of course, be working hard to secure designation and protection of all the MCZs around Kent that were recommended by the Balanced Seas’ Regional Stakeholder Group.


Marine Conservation Zones for southeast seas - a regional context

31 MCZs were recommended to Government in 2011 by representatives of all sea users in the South East. Of these, 9 were put forward by Government for designation in 2013 but only 7 were designated (in November 2013). The Stour and Orwell, Wight Barfleur Extension and East Meridian (West) recommended MCZs have all been deleted from the network, and a decision on Hythe Bay has been deferred. 

Ten further MCZs around the SE were shortlisted as candidates for the second batch of designations, but only 7 were included in the 2015 consultation and went through to designation. This leaves 14 MCZs in the SE which were recommended by the Balanced Seas project with their future left hanging in the balance - they will not even be considered for possible designation until 2017.  

Map of Kent with the proposed marine conservation zones

Protected areas, including Marine Conservation Zones, form one of the most crucial tools for conserving marine wildlife.

Eleven key marine wildlife sites in our local Kent seas were identified as recommended Marine Conservation Zones, but their significance is not simply local: they form an important part of the national network of 127 recommended MCZs around England.

The Government made a commitment to establish a full network of protected areas by the end of 2012, but only 50 of the 127 recommended MCZs have so far been designated.  These few scattered sites will not function as an ecological network.

Please lend your support to help us ensure a full network is designated by 2018.   Support our national campaign for marine protected areas. 

Become a friend of your local MCZ, or of the network as a whole.


Watch the video clips to get a glimpse of what lives in our local MCZs:

Dover to Deal MCZ
Dover to Folkestone MCZ
Goodwin Sands MCZ
Folkestone Pomerania MCZ
Hythe Bay MCZ
Swale Estuary MCZ

Kent's recommended Marine Conservation Zones