The first inshore Highly Protected Marine Areas have been Designated in England. A Highly Protected Marine Area (HPMA) is defined as “an area of the sea that allows the protection and recovery of marine ecosystems by prohibiting extractive, destructive and depositional uses and allowing only non-damaging levels of other activities”. They are different to other marine protected areas as they aim to protect all species, habitats and associated ecosystem processes within the site boundary, including the seabed and water column. In comparison, many of our current Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) and European Marine Sites (EMSs) were designated to protect specific features.

It is anticipated that the following activities will be prohibited in HPMAs:

  • Recreation and commercial fishing
  • Dredging
  • Construction
  • Anchoring

DEFRA announced on the 28th February 2023 that Allonby Bay, situated in the Irish Sea, covering the southern region at the mouth of the Solway Firth, extending approximately 5.6km seaward from the shore between Maryport and Mawbray, was one of the three sites to be designated as a HPMA.

The other two were designated on 14 June 2023 and are:

North East of Farnes Deep, beyond the 12 nautical mile territorial sea limit in the Northern North Sea Region. At its closest, it is approximately 55km from the coast to the east of Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumberland.

Dolphin Head, situated beyond the 12 nautical mile territorial sea limit in the Eastern English Channel. It is approximately 55km south of Selsey Bill, West Sussex.

It was announced on the 5th July that these designations are now in effect.. Details are here.

Link here to more information.