Marine Protected Areas

Marine Protected Areas

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. But for our threatened marine wildlife to recover, a greater level of protection will be required. We need to see Highly Protected Marine Areas where damaging activity is banned. And you can help bring this vision closer.

spiny seahorse

Alexander Mustard/2020 Vision

Government says yes to Highly Protected Marine Areas!

We are pleased to announce the arrival of the long fought-for sea sanctuaries where all damaging activities will be banned - Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs) - the first of their kind in English seas! We have called for HPMAs for the last 3 years and our petition urging their speedy implementation was signed by over 10,000 people. HPMAs will give our degraded seas the best chance of recovery.

Find out more here

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.

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.

Find out more about Highly Protected Marine Areas here.

Compass jellyfish near Thurlestone

Compass jellyfish. Photo, Paul Naylor

Devon has 15 MCZs

A further nine sites off the coast of Devon were designated in 2019 as Marine Conservation Zones, to help our struggling marine wildlife. This brings the total for Devon to 15 MCZs. 

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 Devon has 15 Marine Conservation Zones. In addition to six estuary sites (on the rivers Tamar, Erme, Avon, Dart, Axe and Otter) these include North Devon sites Bideford to Foreland Point, Hartland Point to Tintagel, Morte Platform, Lundy and North West of Lundy. Sites off the South Devon coast are Torbay, East of Start Point and Skerries Bank & surrounds. The final site is off the north Cornwall and Devon coast, South West Approaches to the Bristol Channel.

White-beaked dolphin

White-beaked dolphin. Photo, Caroline Weir

Become a member and support our work

The vital work we do for nature depends on the support of people who care about the future of Devon’s wildlife and wild places.

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