Marine Conservation Zones

Compass jellyfish © Paul Naylor

Marine Conservation Zones are a type of protected area at sea where human activity is restricted to protect marine wildlife and habitats

Devon has six Marine Conservation Zones – but the wildlife in our seas needs greater protection. And you can help us secure it!

On Friday 8 June, the government announced a new public consultation on creating up to 41 more Marine Conservation Zones - including nine in Devon's waters. 

Devon Wildlife Trust, backed by hundreds of local campaigners, has been lobbying UK Government for years to ensure greater protection for our marine wildlife.

Since 2013 the Government has been designating sites as Marine Conservation Zones. There are now 50 MCZs around England – six of those are off Devon’s coasts.


Beadlet anemone - Paul Naylor

But that is less than half the number of sites recommended as Marine Conservation Zones by the Government’s own scientific advisers. This list of sites, which includes a further eight recommended MCZs for Devon was drawn up through a two-year process involving the local community.


Representatives from different groups who have a stake in Devon’s seas – fisheries, divers, shipping companies and marine conservationists – were involved in creating the list of sites that should be protected from damaging activites: fourteen of them in Devon’s waters.


St. Catherine's Tor, hartland

Thanks to public support and campaigns, in 2013 the Government designated 27 MCZs – including four for Devon. Lundy, Torbay, and Tamar Estuary sites were designated, along with Skerries Bank and surrounds – an area extending offshore both west and east of Start Point.


In 2016, following another public consultation in which DWT campaigners took part, a further 23 sites were designated as MCZs. In Devon, two areas off the north coast were protected: Bideford to Foreland Point and Hartland Point to Tintagel.


The campaign continues! Further recommended sites have not been designated, including wildlife-rich estuaries like the Dart and Axe, and a very diverse mix of seabed habitats between Morte Point and Lundy, known as Morte Platform.White beaked dolphin by Caroline Weir

Help secure legal protection for Devon’s marine wildlife – become a Friend of Marine Conservation Zones today! 

Find out more about The Wildlife Trusts’ national campaign for Marine Conservation Zones