Marine conservation zones
Marine conservation zones

The following Environment guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Marine conservation zones
  • Marine conservation zones
  • Designation of MCZs
  • Objective to create network of conservation sites
  • Duties of public authorities
  • Protection of MCZs—byelaws and orders
  • Offences and penalties

Brexit impact

As of exit day (31 January 2020) the UK is no longer an EU Member State. However, in accordance with the Withdrawal Agreement, the UK has entered an implementation period, during which it continues to be subject to EU law. This has an impact on this content.

For further guidance, see: Brexit—impact on environmental law and Brexit Bulletin—key updates, research tips and resources.

Marine conservation zones

Part 5 of the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 (MCAA 2009) provides a power, across most of UK waters, to designate marine conservation zones (MCZs) and replaces the previous power under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 to designate Marine Nature Reserves. This note focuses on MCZs in England and Wales.

For more information on MCAA 2009 more generally, see Practice Note: Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009—snapshot.

MCZs create protected marine sites and complement the other designations available under the marine protected areas network, such as Special Areas of Conservation, Special Protected Areas and Marine Protected Areas.

For more details on the marine protected areas network, see Practice Note: Marine protected areas.

A review to examine the most effective way to introduce the strongest protections for areas of sea—Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs) was announced in June 2019 . HPMAs would complement the existing network of MCZs. This was followed by a consultation