Marine Conservation Zones

Sea Slug by Jason ArmstrongSea Slug by Jason Armstrong

Three recommended Marine Conservation Zones around Kent are awaiting a decision following the Government's public consultation in early 2015, to determine whether they are to be designated.

The Swale, Dover to Deal, and Dover to Folkestone were included on the Government’s shortlist of 23 sites for possible designation as Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) in 2015, thankfully not dropped from the candidate list in the same way that 14 others were elsewhere around the country.

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 consultation, supporting the protection of these sites, and the completion of the entire marine protected area network as soon as possible.

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.

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. 

The Government committed to designating two further batches of MCZs by the end of 2016, and in February 2014, Defra announced their list of 37 candidate sites for the second batch. Only 23 of these candidate sites were included in the 2015 consultation, and 14 were dropped. We await the Government's decisions on the second batch, expected by January 2016.

We owe huge thanks to everyone who responded to the public consultation on the first batch of MCZs in 2013, when 31 sites were considered, helping to ensure that most of them (27) made it through to designation.  We will need your help once again when the Government consults on what we understand is to be the final batch in 2016.  

Marine Conservation Zones around Kent:

Pending possible designation, dependent on the 2015 consultation
The Swale
Dover to Deal
Dover to Folkestone

Designated in 2013
Medway Estuary
Thanet Coast
Folkestone Pomerania

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

Decision deferred until 2016
The decision on Hythe Bay MCZ has been deferred until 2016, 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 until 2016. 

Ten further MCZs around the SE were shortlisted as candidates for the second batch of designations, but only 7 remained on the shortlist in the 2015 consultation. 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 2016.  

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 27 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 2016.   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 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