Blackwater, Crouch, Roach and Colne Estuaries MCZ is located on the Essex coast. It extends from the mean high water mark to where the estuary mouths join the North Sea, and is the largest inshore MCZ covering an area of 284 km2.
The site protects one of the largest estuaries in the East of England and includes the Blackwater, the largest tidal river in Essex. There are already a number of designations within the area including Sites of Special Scientific Interest, the Essex Estuaries Special Area of Conservation and Mid Essex coast Special Protection Area.
These existing sites protect extensive areas of mudflats and saltmarsh, which support a wide range of species including internationally and nationally important numbers of waterfowl such as Brent Goose and Curlew. The MCZ will build upon these existing designations, by offering protection to features such as the native oyster which are not already protected.
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.