The Cromer Shoal Chalk beds, photo by Rob Spray 1/4
Marine life is abundant here, including over 30 species of sea slug (photo Rob Spray) 2/4
Shoaling fish are also a common sight and provide food for many seabirds (photo Rob Spray) 3/4
Alongside chalk, the seabed is composed of a mixture of rock, sediment, peat and clay (photo by Rob Spray) 4/4

Norfolk’s recommended MCZ is included in the consultation

Saturday 31 January, 2015

The long-awaited consultation on the next stages of Marine Conservation Zone (MCZs) designation in English and non-devolved waters has been launched. Norfolk Wildlife Trust welcomes the inclusion of the Cromer Shoal Chalk Beds.

Of the 37 sites recommended by experts and stakeholders in February last year, only 23 are now included in the current MCZs consultation, which runs for the next 12 weeks.  

MCZs are vital to protect and restore the marine environment. Such areas are one of the best tools to protect marine wildlife effectively and restore our seas to their full potential following decades of neglect and decline.

The chalk beds, located just 200 metres from the Norfolk coast, range from 0 – 20 metres in depth. This unique reef comprises boulders, stacks and arches and is most likely to be Europe’s largest chalk reef. Alongside chalk, the seabed is composed of a mixture of rock, sediment, peat and clay.

Marine life is abundant here, including over 30 species of sea slug, harbour porpoises, grey and harbour seals, alongside occasional sightings of sunfish and basking sharks.

The chalk habitat hosts large communities of crustaceans, burrowing piddocks, sea squirts, anemones and sponges; the purple sponge found here is a species new to science and was only discovered in 2011 by Dr Claire Goodwin. Shoaling fish are also a common sight and provide food for many seabirds, including common, little and Sandwich tern.

Chief Executive of Norfolk Wildlife Trust, Brendan Joyce said: “We are pleased that the Cromer Shoal has been included in the consultation for the second tranche of Marine Conservation Zones. The 27 areas designated in November 2013 were the first step towards an ecologically coherent network of marine protected areas and designation of the Cromer Shoal and other sites currently being consulted on, would represent a further step in completing the network.

“However, at a national level we are very concerned that only 23 out of a possible 37 sites that were originally proposed in this tranche are being considered for designation at this stage. We urge the government to move forward with the designation of further sites before the end of 2016.”

NWT is aware that some local fishermen are worried that there will be restrictions if the chalk reef becomes an MCZ.  However, the consultation documents state that there are no activities taking place which at their current  level of activity we expect to require management, and that there is no current indication that management will be required. We believe that there is great potential for conservationists and fishermen to work together; protecting both the reef and those who make their livelihood from crab and lobster potting, from outside threats.

How you can help

We need your support to urge Defra to designate the 23 sites under consultation, bring in management as soon as possible, whilst reminding them of the need to rapidly consult on the designation of an ambitious tranche 3, including the 16 sites lost from this consultation (37 sites were originally put forward) in order to complete the network.

Join our campaign and become a Friend of Marine Conservation Zones. We’ll keep you updated with regular emails about the campaign to secure Marine Conservation Zones in the seas around England.

Share this

Top news stories

2018-06-19 It’s in the bag for wildlife t It’s in the bag for wildlife thanks to local shoppers
Tuesday 19 June, 2018
Thanks to local shoppers, two Norfolk Wildlife Trust projects have received the maximum funding from the Tesco Bags o...
2018-06-08 Battle to protect wildlife at Battle to protect wildlife at sea receives boost today
Friday 08 June, 2018
Norfolk Wildlife Trust welcomes possibility of 41 new Marine Conservation Zones Today the government has launched a ...
2018-06-01 Summer garden wildlife survey Summer garden wildlife survey to help protect species in Norfolk
Friday 01 June, 2018
Norfolk Wildlife Trust launches a new wildlife spotter survey to record sightings in gardens of hedgehogs, peacock bu...
2018-05-30 50,000 people – and rising – s 50,000 people – and rising – sign up to go wild in June
Wednesday 30 May, 2018
As well-known names back national nature challenge 30 Days Wild Naturalists, TV presenters and authors are backin...
2018-05-22 Wildlife in Common Wildlife in Common
Tuesday 22 May, 2018
A two year project celebrating Norfolk’s commons and their wildlife and heritage has begun,  run by Norfol...
2018-05-01 Jess French joins Norfolk Wild Jess French joins Norfolk Wildlife Trust as Children’s Ambassador
Tuesday 01 May, 2018
Our new Sure Start project will engage with children and families at the very start of their lives, giving them hands...
2018-04-27 County Wildlife Sites threaten County Wildlife Sites threatened by government planning changes
Friday 27 April, 2018
From ancient woodlands and flower meadows to wildlife oases in our towns and cities, there are thousands of quiet, of...
2018-04-25 Nigel and Joshua’s Lad join th Nigel and Joshua’s Lad join the grazing ponies on local wildlife site
Wednesday 25 April, 2018
Two Dartmoor Ponies are settling in to their new home at Litcham Common in West Norfolk, where they will graze the he...
2018-04-18 Ben to go Broads to Brecks to Ben to go Broads to Brecks to celebrate Norfolk Day
Wednesday 18 April, 2018
Ambassador of Norfolk Wildlife Trust and of Norfolk Day, Dr Ben Garrod, will journey across Norfolk on Friday 27 July...
2018-04-17 New research reveals nature’s New research reveals nature’s beauty increases happiness
Tuesday 17 April, 2018
30 Days Wild pioneers action to connect people with nature The Wildlife Trusts’ annual nature challenge 3...
2018-03-29 Hi-tec installation for intern Hi-tec installation for internationally-important fen
Thursday 29 March, 2018
A data logging piezometer system has been installed this week at a Norfolk fen to gather detailed data about the site...
2018-03-28  Norfolk's iconic swallowtail Norfolk's iconic swallowtail butterfly at risk from climate change
Wednesday 28 March, 2018
Norfolk's butterflies, bees, bugs, birds, trees and mammals are at major risk from climate change as temperatures...