Marine Conservation Zone Project process


Sunset cup coral (Leptopsammia pruvoti) © Keith Hiscock

The Marine Conservation Zone Project was set up in 2008 and led by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) and Natural England to identify and recommend Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) to Government. The MCZ Project consisted of four regional MCZ projects covering the south-west (Finding Sanctuary), Irish Sea (Irish Sea Conservation Zones), North Sea (Net Gain) and south-east (Balanced Seas). These projects worked with representatives from a cross-section of sea users and interest groups including; commercial fishing, marine industry, recreational users and conservation organisations. These representatives formed regional stakeholder groups which were responsible for using the guidance and data provided, to recommend locations for MCZs to JNCC and Natural England. Further information on the regional MCZ project process can be viewed on the regional MCZ project websites and in the Project Delivery Guidance.


The regional MCZ project recommendations were submitted for all four regions in September 2011 and can be viewed on the MCZ Interactive Map. Once the final recommendations were made, JNCC and Natural England undertook an analysis of the recommendations from the regional MCZ projects to provide advice to Defra. To promote openness and transparency, we invited comment on the draft protocols that set out the standards against which we will produce our advice. The final versions of the MCZ advice protocols are available to view along with details of the comments and how they were taken into account. View the MCZ Project Advice Protocols.


Each of the regional MCZ projects had an economist who undertook a review of the economic, social and environmental impacts that the regional MCZ project recommendations within their region will have. For further information on the Impact Assessment please read the MCZ project Impact Assessment factsheet.


The regional MCZ project recommendations and Impact Assessment were submitted to Government along with ’JNCC and Natural England’s Advice on recommended Marine Conservation Zones’ as part of the MCZ Advice Package on 18th July 2012. The advice is available to read on both the JNCC and Natural England websites.


Deeper water rock, sheltered from waves and currents © JNCC

For the most up to date information on Marine Conservation Zones, please see our MCZ Advice page.


For more infomation on management measures, please see our Management of MCZs page.


If you have further questions about JNCC’s and Natural England work on MCZs please email






Visit the Balanced Seas website Visit the Finding Sanctuary website Visit the Irish Sea Conservation Zones website Visit the Net Gain website