Solway Firth MCZ

Status: Proposed


Site overview

The Solway Firth is a rich, shallow and wide estuary separating England and Scotland with a spread of shifting sand bars and hazardous quicksand. Some of the Firth is protected in a Special Area of Conservation, while the upper flats and marshes are protected for birds in a Special Protection Area. The Firth is an important feeding area for seals and seabirds, and provides nursery grounds for bass, pollack and some flatfish species.

Parts of the Firth may also be designated as a marine conservation zone in 2019, which would lend more protection to the seabed species and habitats found at the site.

MPA Type

Marine Conservation Zone

Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) are designated under UK legislation (Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009) and have been established around England, Wales and Northern Ireland to contribute to the UK MPA network protect a range of nationally important marine wildlife, habitats, geology and geomorphology, and can be designated anywhere in English and Welsh territorial and UK offshore waters.

Surface Area

44.56 km2 (17.20 mi.2)


150.01 km (93.21 mi.)

  • Smelt (Osmerus eperlanus)

    Smelt are fish related to the salmon.  They shoal in the salty water of estuaries and around the mouths of rivers.  Early each year they come upriver to breed in fresh water before returning to the sea. Many populations are now extinct.

Did you know?…

An area over 9 times the size of Wales is now in marine protected areas in the UK, but less than 1% is considered by MCS scientists to be well managed

Over 500,000 records of undersea species and habitats have been collected by volunteer Seasearch divers