Holderness Offshore MCZ

Status: Proposed


Site overview

Lying about 11km off the East Riding coast is a range of sandy and gravel habitats. These make vital homes for a plethora of worms, molluscs and crustaceans, which in turn provide food for fish, including species we eat. In addition, the area provides breeding and nursery habitats for lemon sole, plaice and sprat, the fish many of us know as ‘whitebait’. This site would therefore protect an important part of the food chain on which we ourselves depend. Seabed surveys have also recorded the threatened ocean quahog, a large, slow-growing mollusc that can live for hundreds years, but is particularly vulnerable to bottom-towed gear. The area is presently fished by potters from Bridlington.

There are very few sites that lie beyond 6nm and are properly protected in English seas. MCS believes this site should be considered for designation as a Highly Protected Marine Area where all human activities that negatively impact marine wildlife are prohibited.

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

1,176.12 km2 (454.10 mi.2)


178.74 km (111.06 mi.)

Coordinates (central point)

53° 49' 8" North, 0° 26' 27" East

  • Ocean quahog (Arctica islandica)

    The ocean quahog is a two-shelled animal that looks like a very large cockle and lives buried in the seabed. It can grow up to 13cm across and can be very long lived, with one individual reported to have reached over 500 years old.

  • 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

  • Subtidal mixed sediments

    Undersea beds of a mixture of stones, gravels, sands and muds. Because mixed seabeds are so varied, they may support a wide range of animals, both on and in the sediment.

  • North Sea glacial tunnel valleys: Swallow Hole

    A seabed channel where the depth drops down to 150m

Did you know?…

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

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

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