Marine Conservation Zone Project guidance


JNCC and Natural England provided statutory advice to the regional MCZ projects on how MCZs were to be selected. The two key pieces of guidance were the Project Delivery Guidance and the Ecological Network Guidance. In addition to these there are various other pieces of guidance provided to help the regional MCZ projects arrive at their recommendations.


Finding Sanctuary liaison officer undertaking a mapping exercise with the leisure boat sector © Tom Mullier, Finding SanctuaryDiscussions at a Balanced Seas regional stakeholder group meeting © Balanced SeasUsing charts to aid discussions at the Balanced Seas regional stakeholder meeting © Balanced Seas


Project Delivery Guidance

The Project Delivery Guidance outlines the process for the selection and recommendation of MCZs to Government and how socio-economics will be taken into account. An addendum to the Project Delivery Guidance was produced to reflect changes made during the project to the process and timetable, as a result of clarification on the information to be submitted.


Ecological Network Guidance

The Ecological Network Guidance sets out the guidelines which the regional stakeholder groups used to identify MCZs and ensure they contribute to the creation of an ecological coherent network of MPAs. It includes a list of the habitats and species that MCZs should be identified for, how many sites are required, how large and how far apart they should be.


In writing the guidance JNCC and Natural England have drawn upon the best available scientific evidence and commissioned several new pieces of research to underpin the guidance principles. A quick reference guide and some frequently asked questions have been produced to help people understand some of the more technical content.


Conservation Objective Guidance

Within each MCZ, every habitat or species that the site is designated for will require a “conservation objective”. That conservation objective should describe the desired ecological/geological state (quality) of the habitat or species. Alongside their site recommendations the regional MCZ projects will be recommending draft conservation objectives for each site, the Conservation Objective Guidance has been written to help the regional MCZ projects with this task. A summary of the document has also been produced to act as a quick reference guide to the key principles.


Co-location Guidance

As outlined in Section 4.7 of the Ecological Network Guidance levels of protection for MCZs should range from highly protected reference areas to areas where only minimal restrictions are needed to protect the habitats and species. The Co-location Guidance was been developed to help the regional MCZ projects when recommending locations for MCZs where licensed, planned or existing human activities occur.


Finding Sanctuary mapping with a diver © Tom Mullier, Finding SanctuaryMCZ Project stand at Offshore Wind 2010 © Amy RidgewayDiscussions at Balanced Seas regional stakeholder group © Balanced Seas


Defra Guidance Notes

Alongside the advice produced by JNCC and Natural England, Defra has produced four Guidance Notes to help with the delivery of the recommendations. These are:

  • Guidance on the selection and designation of Marine Conservation Zones (Note 1)
  • Guidance on the duties on public authorities in relation to Marine Conservation Zones (Note 2)
  • Draft guidance on the byelaw and order making powers and general offence under Part 5 of the Marine and Coastal Access Act (Note 3)
  • Draft guidance note on SSSIs and National Nature Reserves in the subtidal area (Note 4)



As JNCC staff sat on the regional MCZ project stakeholder groups, we have produced this document to outline JNCC's role and differentiate between this role and it's role at a national level which supported the development of the regional MCZ projects.