South Dorset MCZ lies mainly within the 12 nautical mile limit but a small part extends further seawards. It is located approximately 17.5 km south of St Alban’s (St Aldhelm’s) Head, to the south-east of Swanage. The site covers an area of approximately 193 km2 making it one of the largest MCZs.
The MCZ protects two seabed habitats, subtidal coarse sediment and subtidal chalk, as well as their associated species. Subtidal chalk is typically found on the south-east and eastern coasts of the UK, but this site protects the only known example of this seabed habitat within the south-west region.
Designated as part of the first tranche of Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) in the UK. In November 2013 the minister announced the designation of 27 MCZs in English inshore and English and Welsh offshore waters and outlined plans for future zones. You can see the location of the 27 designated sites and find out further information about each site at JNCC Interactive Map.
Marine Conservation Zones protect areas that are important to conserve the diversity of nationally rare, threatened and representative habitats and species. Designation of these zones takes social and economic factors into account, alongside the best available scientific evidence.
Management measures will be put in place by the regulators (Marine Management Organisation (MMO) and Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities (IFCAs)) on a site by site basis. Natural England and the JNCCwill advise the regulators about the vulnerability of the features included within the Designation Order and activities that are currently occurring within the site that will have a negative impact on the protected features.