The Tamar Estuary MCZs are located in two spatially separate areas. The MCZs cover an area of approximately 15 km2 and include the upper reaches of the Tamar and Lynher estuaries of South Devon and Cornwall.
The sheltered habitats found within this site are subject to various salinity levels and tidal exposures. This diverse estuarine environment supports a number of features of ecological importance. These MCZs are particularly important as they are the only site where smelt (Osmerus eperlanus) is protected. Smelt is a migratory fish species which has suffered large declines throughout its range and is known to breed in the Tamar.
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.