Marine Conservation Zones

Protecting Wild Spaces

Marine Conservation Zones

Photo by Dave Wood

Protecting Our Seas

Grateful thanks to all those who joined the campaign to complete the network of protected underwater areas to safeguard and connect our marine wildlife.

Defra’s consultation on a proposed third batch of Marine Conservation Zone designations ended on 20th July 2018.

In the six short weeks of this consultation, 1,200 members and supporters of Kent Wildlife Trust signed and returned a campaign postcard and many more joined the Wildlife Trusts’ national online Wave of Support campaign which gathered a staggering 22,100 signatures. 

The tremendous support shown for our local sites will help to ensure they are designated and become part of the all-important national network.

Kent Wildlife Trust has submitted a detailed response to the consultation.  We welcomed Defra’s proposals to designate and protect four more sites around Kent: Goodwin Sands, Foreland, Swanscombe, and Kentish Knock East, and additional features in some of the existing sites.

We expressed our grave concern that further sites which were recommended in 2011 were not included in the consultation: Hythe Bay and the wider area of Thames Estuary around the proposed small site at Swanscombe. The significance of these sites is not simply local: they form an important part of the national network of 127 recommended MCZs around England. We will, therefore, continue to work with Government to press for a full network of protected areas.

Kent Wildlife Trust is hugely grateful to the public who responded wonderfully to our call to back the 41 potential Marine Conservation Zones in the consultation. The Government will make its decision by June 2019. 

Our seas are home to an astonishing array of wildlife, but sadly it is under threat from a range of pressures like overfishing, pollution and offshore developments. A well-connected network of protected areas is needed to provide sanctuary.

To date, the Government has formally designated only six of the 11 recommended Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) around Kent. The five other recommended sites remain under threat of continued degradation. The latest proposals provide the chance to protect four of them. In total, 127 sites around the whole country were recommended for protection by stakeholders in 2011. Just 50 of these have been designated so far, leaving the national network that was promised by Government a long way from complete. 

Kent Wildlife Trust volunteer survey programmes provide vital data

Grateful thanks go to Kent Wildlife Trust’s Seasearch and Shoresearch volunteers who have collected vital data to support designation of Kent’s MCZs.

Why not join the team?

More about Seasearch and Shoresearch

Kent’s special marine zones

Kent Wildlife Trust has been hugely heartened by our many supporters whose petition signatures and carefully-worded letters helped to secure the designation of the first six MCZs around Kent, following public consultations in 2012 and 2015. Thanks to your support, the following are now Marine Conservation Zones:

Medway Estuary, Swale, Thanet Coast, Dover to Deal, Dover to Folkestone, and Folkestone Pomerania.

The future remains uncertain for the remaining sites around Kent which stakeholders identified as critical components of the national network. Kent Wildlife Trust has been working hard to ensure that the five remaining recommended MCZs around Kent receive the protection they desperately need. Please support these sites by responding to the public consultation by 20th July 2018.

Dive in and explore our MCZs

Take a tour around Kent’s Marine Conservation Zones on our storymap.

Take a look at some of the special marine creatures and their underwater homes, as seen by our Seasearch survey divers:

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

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

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 of 2009. These sites were carefully selected during a 2-year consultation process by four regional stakeholder groups containing representatives of all sea users.

The first tranche of 27 Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) was designated in November 2013, and a second tranche of 23 MCZs was designated in January 2016, each after an additional 3-month public consultation.

The Government has committed to designating a further tranche of MCZs, following the public consultation between 8th June and 20th July 2018.

We owe huge thanks to everyone who responded to the public consultations on the first and second tranches of MCZs, helping to secure the designation of 50 MCZs in total so far. These 50 scattered sites fall well short of a well-connected national network of sites. We hope that 41 extra sites will be designated following the 2018 consultation.  

Why protect marine areas?

All our lives are dependent on the bounty of the seas, from the food we eat to the air we breathe and the climate we inhabit. The seas around Kent are home to a wonderful diversity of life, from sponges to seahorses, from starfish to seals. This wildlife should be safe, but sadly it is under increasing threat from over-exploitation and damage. Our seas are in desperate need of protection.

Protected areas at sea, including the new Marine Conservation Zones, form one of the most crucial tools for conserving marine wildlife, providing it with much-needed sanctuary.

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 marine protected areas around England.  

How can I help?

Join the growing network of Coastal Guardians who are looking out for the welfare of marine wildlife around the entire coast of Kent. 

Join Kent Wildlife Trust’s marine survey teams.

Support our national campaign for marine protected areas and help us ensure the network is completed. Become a friend of your local MCZ, or of the network as a whole.