Goodwin Sands MCZ

Status: Proposed


Site overview

Goodwin Sands, notorious for centuries of shipwrecks, is a key foraging ground for seabirds, and an important nursery ground for fish species such as cod, sandeels and plaice. It is also one of the only two seal haul-out (resting and pupping) site in the South East for common and grey seals. The sandy tubes of thousands of tiny ross worms are mixed in with beds of blue mussels. Together these form complex habitats providing shelter and food for many animals such as crabs, anemones, molluscs and various fish species, and a breeding site for thornback rays.

MCS has consistently called for better fisheries management at this site, and designation of this Marine Conservation Zone in 2019 would provide much needed protection for this rich and diverse seabed habitat.

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

276.91 km2 (106.92 mi.2)


68.24 km (42.40 mi.)

Coordinates (central point)

51° 15' 27" North, 1° 35' 16" East

  • Ross worm reefs (Sabellaria spinulosa)

    Ross worms build tubes from sand and shell fragments. They are usually found individually, but in some shallow water areas they occur in huge colonies that can be up to half a metre high and spread over several hectares. They are important because they p

  • Moderate energy circalittoral rock

    Deeper water rock, with some shelter from waves and currents.

  • Subtidal sand

    Sandy seascapes that can seem a bit like deserts, but can be full of life. Flat fish and sand eels camouflaged on the surface of the sand,worms and bivalves (with their paired, hinged shells) all live in places like these.

  • Subtidal coarse sediment

    Undersea beds of coarse sand, gravel and shingle. Most of the animals that live here, like bristleworms, sand mason worms, small shrimp-like animals, burrowing anemones, carpet shell clams and venus cockles, are found buried in the seabed – the safest pl

  • Blue mussel beds (Mytilus edulis)

    These small, blue mussels are a common sight on UK coasts and form large beds in some places. They are particularly important where they create a haven for other creatures like starfish, crabs and anemones in otherwise sandy or muddy areas. 

  • English Channel Outburst Flood Features

    A seabed feature providing evidence of the catastrophic flooding which created the channel and permanently isolated Britain from mainland Europe.

Did you know?…

Over half a million people have voiced their support for ‘marine protected area’ designation in the UK through our campaigns

To the shelf limits, Scotland has 61% of UK waters, of which 23% are now in existing or new ‘marine protected areas’