Marine Conservation Zones

Sea Slug by Jason ArmstrongSea Slug by Jason Armstrong

A first tranche of 27 Marine Conservation Zones was finally designated on 21st November 2013. This includes three around Kent: the Medway Estuary, Thanet Coast and Folkestone Pomerania.

Kent Wildlife Trust welcomed this first step towards the establishment of a network of protected areas to recover our seas to health. This is a significant milestone, but we still have a long way to go. We were encouraged to hear the Government’s commitment to designating two further tranches of MCZs over the next few years.  

It is very good to see the Medway Estuary, Thanet Coast and Folkestone Pomerania included in the first tranche of designations. Although disappointed that a final decision on Hythe Bay has been deferred until early 2014, we are hopeful that a suitable management solution can be 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. We will, of course, be working hard to secure designation of the other seven MCZs around Kent that were recommended by the Balanced Seas’ Regional Stakeholder Group.

We owe huge thanks to everyone who responded to the early 2013 public consultation on Marine Conservation Zones with personal letters, through our website, or by signing the south east Wildlife Trusts’ campaign postcards.

We were delighted to send DEFRA well over 2,000 signed postcards, which increased the campaign responses collected nationally by The Wildlife Trusts by half as much again! A large majority of the 2,000 were from Kent.

Kent Wildlife Trust worked with the Wildlife Trusts on a national response, and prepared fully detailed submissions on each of Kent’s sites.

Recommended Marine Conservation Zones for southeast seas

31 MCZs were recommended to Government in 2011 by representatives of all sea users in the South East. Of these, only 9 were put forward by Government for designation in 2013 - shown in red in the map below. This included 4 around the Kent coast: Medway Estuary, Thanet Coast, Folkestone Pomerania and Hythe Bay.  The first three of these have been designated, while a decision on Hythe Bay has been deferred until 2014.

17 of the 31 SE MCZs were identified as at higher risk of damage or deterioration.
Of these, only 5 have been designated in 2013, leaving the remainder still at risk.

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 and recommended to Government in 2011 for designation as Marine Conservation Zones under the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009.

These MCZ recommendations were developed by the Balanced Seas’ Regional Stakeholder Group, comprising representatives of all the sea user groups, and they form an important part of the network of 127 recommended MCZs around England.

The Government made a commitment to establish a full network of protected areas, but only 31 of the 127 sites were put forward for designation in 2013 in their public consultation, which closed in March 2013. (See our press release.)  The Government announced the immediate designation of 27 of these in November 2013.

Although a significant step forward, these few scattered sites will not function as an ecological network.

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

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