Selsey Bill and the Hounds MCZ

Status: Proposed


Site overview

A popular Sussex seaside holiday destination, the band Madness liked to drive their car to Selsey Bill! Selsey derives from Old English ‘seal island’, while ‘Bill’ is a more recent addition that describes the beak-like shape of the headland. The site includes the rocky reefs stretching out to sea from the headland, as well as the Hounds clay and rocky reef to the north west of the site, an important potting site for local inshore fishermen. Mixon Hole, an ancient, submerged river gorge featuring a 20m high clay cliff lies within the southern part of the site. Selsey Bill and the Hounds support a diverse community of seaweeds, crustaceans, molluscs, worms and fish, including the rare short-snouted seahorse and native oyster.

Designation of this marine conservation zone in 2019 should lead to protection of these fragile species and habitats from the impacts of damaging heavy, bottom-towed fishing gear.

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

12.80 km2 (4.94 mi.2)


19.37 km (12.04 mi.)

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Seasearch completed a report on this site in 2012. Divers found that, at both the Mixon Hole and the Hounds the shallow, upward facing, surfaces of the limestone were covered in a rich turf of red and brown seaweeds and sponges including breadcrumb, sulphur and goosebump sponges.

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Did you know?…

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

Over 170 parliamentarians from across the political spectrum signed up to our Marine Charter calling for a network of ‘marine protected areas’ in UK Seas

Over 500,000 records on undersea habitats and species have been collected by volunteer Seasearch divers providing significant evidence for inshore ‘marine protected areas’

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