Final Recommendations for Marine Conservation Zones in the South West 08/09/2011

Finding Sanctuary submit their stakeholders final recommendations to Government. New report and maps show where the potential Marine Conservation Zones have been recommended to be located. Download the final report on our 'Research' pages.

It’s a process that has taken two years and involved nearly a quarter of a million of the region’s water users but now the project set up to develop proposals for new Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) has made its final recommendations to the Government.

Finding Sanctuary’s report contains information on the MCZs which will form part of a wider network of Marine Protected Areas ensuring that a wide range of marine habitats and species are protected into the future. The submission includes detailed site reports and maps for each of the recommended Marine Conservation Zones (rMCZs).

The proposed network consists of a total of 58 sites covering habitats from estuaries and coastal areas to deep water canyons: 13 of the suggested sites (rMCZs) are in offshore areas; 32 are in the inshore waters of Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and the Isles of Scilly. The smallest recommended MCZ is only 0.09km2 located off the south Dorset coast and the largest is 5809 km2 proposed in offshore waters in the far south west of UK Territorial Waters.

The report also lists 13 recommended reference areas which are particularly highly protected Marine Conservations Zones. Three of these reference areas are proposed for offshore locations with ten proposed for the inshore waters of Cornwall, Devon and Dorset.

Decisions about how the sites are managed, and what activities can or cannot take place in MCZs, will be made once designation has been confirmed.

Mike Bailey, a representative for the interests of recreational sea anglers on the project said “A stakeholder driven process was a brave, visionary and challenging way forward to produce a network of MCZs. Despite the significant complexities of involving so many stakeholders (often with opposing or divergent views and wishes), the result is a network that the group felt that they could support and live with.”

Caroline Price, representing leisure boating interests on the project said “Whilst not perfect the group produced the best network, in the extremely ambitious timetable, under some difficult circumstances. The efforts of all sectors to understand, recognise and accommodate the needs of others are the real achievement of the process.”

The Finding Sanctuary Project Manager Tom Hooper stated “This final report marks the culmination of two years of hard work developing MCZ recommendations for the south-west region. It is a successful conclusion for all stakeholders involved, who have shown tremendous commitment and have worked constructively to design a network that meets national ecological targets, whilst incorporating a balance of stakeholder interests.

“Once designated, MCZs will make important changes to the way our seas are used and managed, and it is vital that these planning decisions are carefully considered by those with strong local knowledge and with expertise from the sectors that will be affected.”

Tom also paid tribute to the people who have taken part in the Finding Sanctuary process: “The project involved people with different interests and values, but there has been tremendous pragmatism and a collective desire to get the task completed and construct a viable and effective network. The process was not without its challenges and a number of uncertainties around management remain to be resolved.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the regional and local stakeholders who participated in the planning process for their hard work to help us reach this successful conclusion.”

A public consultation is expected to take place during 2012. This will be an opportunity for people to give feedback to the government on the proposed designations before they are finalised.

The final recommendations report, produced by Finding Sanctuary, including detailed site reports and maps will be available to download from A short summary booklet of the report with maps and images will also be available on the projects website.

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