Welsh Marine Conservation Zones

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Protecting our marine environment

Welsh seas are diverse and dynamic. They are home to an array of marine life, including dolphins and seals, rocky reefs and seagrass beds. The sea is entwined in Welsh culture, used for work and well-being by many people every year. It is also an environment that faces numerous challenges, including:

  • impacts from human activities, and
  • climate change

One way to contribute to a resilient marine environment is Wales is through our network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). These, in turn, contribute to a wider network of MPAs around the UK. Our existing network comprises several different types of MPAs. We are identifying more Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs). This will ensure that the full range of habitats and species found in our waters are represented in the network. It will also help to keep our seas healthy, resilient and brimming with life.

  • There are currently 139 Marine Protected Areas in Welsh waters.
  • They cover 69% of our inshore waters, out to 12 nautical miles, and 50% of all Welsh waters, out to the median line.
  • They cover the wide variety of habitats and species found within our waters.
  • Recognising the importance of our network the Minister for Climate Change has published a Written Statement that can be found here.

Welsh Marine Conservation Zones designation process

We are seeking data and evidence to support the next steps in the process to identify suitable areas for potential Marine Conservation Zone designations. The programme to date has identified large areas in which smaller areas are sought for designation to complete our network, predominantly in the offshore waters. Boundaries for potential sites have not been identified at this stage.  Documentation presenting the process undertaken by the project along with factsheets detailing the known evidence we currently hold for each Area of Search (A-H) can be found towards the bottom of this page. Documents of interest include;

A ‘process document’ explaining the rationale and steps that the programme is undertaking to identify potential sites
A document for each of the Areas of Search (labelled A to H) along with an ‘overview’ document that details the overarching information the project already holds
A frequently asked questions (FAQ) document
A ‘data submission form’ to provide further data and evidence to the project for consideration prior to the next stages  

This is not a formal consultation at this stage but a call for data and evidence to guide further decision making.

Find more information about Marine Protected Areas

Welsh Marine Protection Areas Network Completion Project

Process for identifying MCZs in wales
Identifying Broad Areas of search
Overview of Areas of search
Frequently asked questions
​​​​Fact sheet: Area of search A
Fact sheet: Area of search B
Fact sheet: Area of search D
Fact sheet: Area of search E
Fact sheet: Area of search F
Fact sheet: Area of search GH
Data submission form


Relevant links