ARCHIVE: Marine Conservation Zones
We have produced a non-technical leaflet on ‘Protecting our marine environment through the Marine Bill’. (PDF 1.42 MB).
Some marine habitats and species are already protected under European legislation (as Special Protection Areas for birds and Special Areas for Conservation for habitats) or under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as Marine Nature Reserves). However, the former only protects habitats and species considered to be important at the European scale whilst the 1981 Act has proved to be limited in its effectiveness and applicability. Part 5 of the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 seeks to address these gaps. The marine protected areas page contains more information about other types of sites.
To gather the evidence base for proposals to improve marine nature conservation several reports were commissioned during 2006.
Part 5 of the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 - Marine Conservation Zones
Defra has included provisions in Part 5 of the Act, which enable Ministers to designate and protect a new type of marine protected area, to be called Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs). MCZs will exist alongside European marine sites (SACs and SPAs), to form a marine protected areas network. Existing Marine Nature Reserves at Lundy and Skomer will be converted into MCZs.
MCZs will protect areas covering the habitats and species which exist in our seas. They will be both large enough, and close enough together, to support functioning communities of marine wildlife. They will be used to protect areas that are important to conserve the diversity of rare, threatened and representative habitats and species, which could include the rare fan shell (Atrina fragilis), the ocean quahog clam (Arctica Icelandica), seagrass (Zostera) and maerl beds.
Each MCZ will have its conservation objectives set out in the designating order. This will effectively determine the level of protection for the site. The Act includes two new duties on all public bodies in respect of MCZs. Firstly all public bodies will be under a general duty to exercise their functions in a manner which will further the conservation objectives for MCZs. Secondly, public bodies will be under a duty not to authorise anything where there is a significant risk of it hindering the conservation objectives for a site.
The Act also allows for the making of byelaws (and interim byelaws where urgent action is needed). These are localised measures to regulate otherwise-unregulated activities, when this is necessary to further the conservation objectives for an MCZ (or potential MCZ). Byelaws can also be made to protect European marine sites.
We have produced draft guidance which provides more detail about how we envisage the provisions of Part 5 of the Act will work in practice.
Proposals for an ecologically coherent network of MPAs
In April 2009, Defra launched a consultation on ‘Delivering Marine Conservation Zones and European Marine Sites: A draft strategy for marine protected areas’.
The draft strategy sets out how existing obligations for marine protected areas under European Directives together with Marine Conservation Zones under the Marine and Coastal Access Act and other designated sites will deliver an ecologically coherent network by 2012.
We have produced a document which illustrates how the network design principles contained in the draft strategy might be applied in UK waters.
- ‘An illustration of a network of marine protected areas under the Marine and Coastal Access Bill’ (PDF 1MB)
Other parts of the Marine and Coastal Access Act
The provisions in the Marine and Coastal Access Act go much further than allowing for the designation and protection of MCZs. Modernising and integrating our approach to the wider marine environment will help us to further our nature conservation objectives as effectively as possible and in ways which take full account of the wider social and economic context. Our proposals for marine planning (Part 3) and licensing (Part 4), Reform of fisheries management (Parts 6 and 7), coordinated enforcement powers (Part 8) and the creation of a Marine Management Organisation (Part 1) will each deliver benefits for conservation of marine wildlife.
‘Protecting our marine environment through the Marine Bill’ leaflet
We have produced a non-technical leaflet on ‘Protecting our marine environment through the Marine Bill’. You can down load a pdf version here (1.42 MB).
The Marine and Coastal Access Act made provision for the Marine Nature Reserve around Lundy Island, in the Bristol Channel, to become an MCZ automatically on 12 January 2010. Further information is contained in this letter (PDF 106KB) which has been sent to relevant stakeholders.
If you would like to find out more about how the Marine and Coastal Access Act will help to protect marine nature conservation, and/or if you would like to requested a printed copy of the leaflet, please contact Defra’s Marine Biodiversity team, Zone 1/05, Temple Quay House, 2 The Square, Temple Quay, Bristol BS1 6EB. Email: email@example.com.
Page last modified: 08 January 2010