Marine Conservation Zones

Marine Conservation Zones

Photo, Linda Pitkin/2020VISION

Protecting Devon's seas

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

Compass jellyfish near Thurlestone

Compass jellyfish. Photo, Paul Naylor

Devon has 15 MCZs

A further nine sites off the coast of Devon were included  in the latest tranche of sites to be given greater protection in a bid to help our struggling marine wildlife. This brings the total for Devon to 15 Marine Conservation Zones. 

This success is thanks to years of sustained lobbying of government and the support of hundreds of local campaigners and supporters who pledged their support for marine protected areas. 

Thanks to public support and campaigns the following Devon marine sites now enjoy protected MCZ status:

Lundy, Torbay, and Tamar Estuary. Skerries Bank and surrounds – an area extending offshore both west and east of Start Point. Bideford to Foreland Point and Hartland Point to Tintagel. Joining these sites are now Erme,  Avon, Dart, Axe and Otter Estuaries, Morte Platform, East of Start Point, North West of Lundy and South West Approaches to the Bristol Channel. 

Thank you!    


But these areas need greater protection

Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs) would offer the strictest possible protections for the marine environment, giving nature the best chance of recovery. By removing all pressures (e.g fishing, sea angling, construction), our shallow seas, diverse seabeds and deep underwater canyons can become healthier, more productive and full of life once more.

Help our seas recover with HPMAs

In 2019 an independent panel was tasked by the Government to review how and whether HPMAs could be introduced to English waters. The panel's recommendations have now been published - and we're delighted that these are in line with what we asked for. The headlines in the report include:

  • HPMAs should ban all destructive activities including fishing and only allow non-damaging levels of other activities e.g. swimming, kayaking, scuba diving.
  • HPMAs should take a whole-site approach, protecting all species and habitats within their boundaries.
  • HMPA sites should have sufficient geographic spread to cover nearshore, inshore and offshore waters and different regional seas.

The Government must implement the recommendations as soon as possible, and publish an ambitious HPMA delivery plan within the year. 

Raise your hand and join us in calling on the Government to implement HPMAs - click here to sign:

White-beaked dolphin

White-beaked dolphin. Photo, Caroline Weir

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