Two new Marine Conservation Zones

In July 2018, the Government announced Tranche 3 of the proposals to create Marine Conservation Zones (MCZ) around the coast of England. More information on exactly what is an MCZ can be found elsewhere in the newsletter.

3.1 Two new MCZs PHOTO Newtown MorningThis article concentrates on the two new proposals between Yarmouth and Cowes  and  off Bembridge on the Isle of Wight and how The Solent Protection Society (SPS) responded to the consultation. We responded where we were able, but some questions involved commercial financial data, or additional scientific evidence, which SPS did not have.

SPS supported both these designations as part of the Blue Belt initiative; however, we consider there is little, if any additional scientific evidence, to support restrictions on recreational use beyond the protections already afforded by existing designations.

We are concerned that Osborne Bay has been omitted from Tranche 3 but accept that the important sea grass beds (if more accurately mapped) could be protected by by-laws.

We questioned why Sea Pens has been listed as a feature off Bembridge as there is “low confidence”  that it exists or if it does, its extent. We see no basis for any restriction and  that the Special  Area of Conservation (SAC) under the Habitats Directive already gives sufficient protection.

Following earlier consultations SPS supported the sensible revisions to the zones now proposed. However, we consider that both Newtown and Bembridge Harbour should be omitted as these are already very well protected by existing designations and are both highly managed. Further designation is superfluous in our view.

We were asked if we had scientific data to support these designations. One of the difficulties is that there is very little scientific evidence to support some of the designations, as Natural England themselves have pointed out. For example, the assertion that the spread of slipper limpet may be reduced by a restriction on fishing is, as far as we know, not supported by any scientific evidence.

Finally we were asked for any other general comments. SPS, while supportive of the proposed MCZs, were concerned that these should not restrict existing important recreational use.

For example under the designation Yarmouth to Cowes, “recreation” is not listed as ‘affected’ it should therefore be listed as ‘not likely to be affected’.  Where and if there is any evidence of damage by recreation, then sensible management and monitoring arrangements should be put in place with stakeholders. A blanket restriction would not be appropriate. This particularly affects sailing activity to the east of Yarmouth pier.

Similarly at Bembridge,  the RLNI use of a mooring in Priory Bay must be based on accurate surveys and sensible management.

SPS are supportive of the reintroduction of oysters into the Solent and would not want the MCZ to restrict controlled commercial development in the future.

Yarmouth to Cowes and to a certain extent Bembridge are important for Marine archaeology which these proposed MCZs would help to protect but should not restrict further investigation.

Yarmouth to Cowes


What would this site protect?

Designation would protect the following features. You can read more about the features this site protects and why they are important here by following the links at the end of this article.


General Management Approach
Bouldnor Cliff geological feature Maintain in favourable condition
Estuarine rocky habitats
Intertidal coarse sediment
Intertidal under boulder communities
Littoral chalk communities
Low energy intertidal rock
Moderate energy intertidal rock
Subtidal coarse sediment
High energy circalittoral rock Recover to favourable condition
High energy infralittoral rock
Moderate energy circalittoral rock
Moderate energy infralittoral rock
Native oyster (Ostrea edulis)
Peat and clay exposures
Sheltered muddy gravels
Subtidal chalk
Subtidal mixed sediments
Subtidal mud



 What would this site protect?

Designation would protect the following features. You can read more about the features this site protects and why they are important here. Feature General Management Approach
Sheltered muddy gravels Maintain in favourable condition
Short-snouted seahorse (Hippocampus hippocampus)
Stalked jellyfish (Haliclystus species)
Stalked jellyfish (Lucernariopsis campanulata)
Subtidal coarse sediment
Subtidal sand
Native oyster (Ostrea edulis) Recover to favourable condition
Seagrass beds
Maerl beds
Sea pens and burrowing megafauna
Peacock’s tail (Padina pavonica)
Subtidal mixed sediments
Subtidal mud

 More information can be found at this link.