Getting in the (Marine Conservation) Zone

Our Marine Officer Alice Morley talks about the newly designated Marine Conservation Zones and what comes next for us here at Kent Wildlife Trust.

We did it! Here at Kent Wildlife Trust, we’re thrilled that the Government has announced the designation of 41 new Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) around the UK and it wouldn’t have happened without the help of everyone who supported the national MCZ campaign. The designation of these MCZs means that together we have come one step closer to achieving our vision of healthy, thriving and sustainable seas!  

What are Marine Conservation Zones?

Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) are areas of the sea that have been designated to protect certain habitats, species or features found there. The protected features of MCZs vary from site to site and can range from iconic species like seahorses to perhaps the less exciting (but just as important!) feature of mud!

The Wildlife Trusts and other marine conservation organisations have been advocating for what is known as a network of MCZs around the UK. An effective network of MCZs requires that these protected areas are close together; are as large as possible; and cover a whole range of habitats needed to support the rich diversity of marine life that we want to see in our waters. MCZs are important as they can act as safe havens for wildlife, allowing habitats and creatures to thrive. By giving these areas the status of an MCZ, it allows damaged and fragile habitats to recover and can make them more resilient to human activities and the effects of climate change.

Which new ones have been designated?

As a result of the latest campaign and consultation, 41 new sites have been designated bringing the total number of MCZs to 91. Five of these newly designated sites are around Kent, these being Goodwin Sands, Swanscombe, Foreland, Kentish Knock East and Inner Bank. You can see a map of the full network of designated MCZs here.

What’s next?

Although the designation of all 41 sites is a hugely positive step in the right direction, our work isn’t over! Here at Kent Wildlife Trust we will now be concentrating on ensuring that these sites are effectively managed and that regulations are followed so that the wildlife within these MCZs can thrive.

We will also be looking to address any gaps in the MCZ network, for example, where currently some habitats or features are not adequately represented. Some suggested sites were omitted from the network of designated MCZs, resulting in a shortfall in the number and location of sites originally recommended by stakeholders in 2011. In order for the network to be as effective as possible, we would like to see more MCZs put in place in the future!

How can people get involved?

You can keep up to date with any future marine work and campaigns by keeping an eye on the Kent Wildlife Trust website, or better yet, why not become a Kent Wildlife Trust member and find out about all the different work we are doing to protect and restore nature across the county.

You could also become a Coastal Guardian and join the growing team of local people in your area who are looking out for the welfare of marine wildlife across the Kent coast. Finally, we would love it if you become a ‘Friend of Marine Conservation Zones’ which you can do by clicking here

Once again, we would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who joined in with the MCZ campaign – your support really made a difference!