Devon Avon Estuary MCZ

Status: Proposed


Site overview

Running past the beach village of Bantham, originally a Roman fishing and trading port and now a popular tourist spot, this estuary features sandbars, mudflats and saltmarsh. The habitats provide good foraging habitat for many species of birds that feed on the rich invertebrate communities living in the mud, and nursery habitats for commercially important fish species. Amongst the many invertebrates that call the estuary home, the rare tentacled lagoon worm lurks in the thick, deep tidal mud.

Designation of this marine conservation zone in 2019 with protect this site from any future developments that may threaten this beautiful 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

1.81 km2 (0.70 mi.2)


27.84 km (17.30 mi.)

  • Tentacled lagoon-worm (Alkmaria romijni)

    A tiny, very scarce bristleworm, less than five millimetres long. It lives in a tube made of mud in some sheltered estuaries and lagoons.

  • Intertidal mud

    The quiet water in sheltered estuaries and harbours allows very fine silt and clay to settle and form a layer of mud that can be exposed at low tide. These glistening muddy expanses can be packed ful of life and are sometimes called the ‘larders of the s

  • Moderate energy intertidal rock

    Rocky seashores, above low tide, with some shelter from waves and currents. On these shores, there are places where plants and animals can find shelter from the waves – the landward sides of boulders, in cracks and crevices, and in rock pools.

  • Intertidal sand and muddy sand

    The beach! Sandy shores are made up of clean sand or slightly muddy sand, often scattered with seashells and stones. The surface is often ‘rippled’ by the action of waves. Below the surface worms and shellfish stay safe and damp.

  • Coastal saltmarshes and saline reedbeds

    Saltmarshes link the land and the sea and create very specialised conditions for particular plants. They form a natural coastal defence and are home to a large variety of life. Associated reedbeds are equally rich and improtant and support iconic species

Did you know?…

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

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 of undersea species and habitats have been collected by volunteer Seasearch divers