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.

It is very good to see the first Kent MCZs designated, and Kent Wildlife Trust welcomed this first step towards the establishment of a network of protected areas to recover our seas to health.

We were encouraged to hear the Government’s commitment to designating two further tranches of MCZs over the next three years. In February 2014, Defra announced their list of candidate MCZs for the second tranche, and we are very pleased that this includes three further Kent sites: The Swale, Dover to Deal and Dover to Folkestone. These will go out to public consultation in early 2015.

Kent Wildlife Trust has had a close involvement in each of these sites, through undertaking numerous surveys in the two Dover sites, and through managing our reserve at South Swale.

Designation of a first tranche, and publication of a candidate list for a second tranche represent significant milestones in the MCZ process, but we still have a long way to go to establish the full network of protected areas.

We owe huge thanks to everyone who responded to the public consultation on the first tranche of MCZs in 2013, sending in personal letters, campaign postcards or support online. All of the second tranche candidate sites will need your support during the next public consultation in 2015, to ensure that they make it through to designation.

A decision on Hythe Bay has now been deferred until 2016, when 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.

Marine Conservation Zones around Kent:
Designated in 2013

Medway Estuary
Thanet Coast
Folkestone Pomerania

Candidates for possible designation in 2015, pending public consultation
The Swale
Dover to Deal
Dover to Folkestone

Not yet progressed towards designation
Goodwin Sands
Offshore Foreland
Thames Estuary
Kentish Knock East

Decision deferred until 2016
Hythe Bay

We 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.

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. 7 of these were designated in November 2013. The Stour and Orwell was removed from the network, while a decision on Hythe Bay has been deferred until 2016. 

Ten further MCZs around the SE are candidates for the second tranche in 2015. This leaves ten MCZs in the SE which were recommended by the Balanced Seas project which 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 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 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.

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

Support our national campaign for marine protected areas