Solway Firth

Site overview: This site crosses the border between England and Scotland and is a Special Area of Conservation - a type of Marine Protected Area. This area is a part of the Solway Firth European Marine Site (EMS). The Solway is a complex estuary which is one of the least industrialised, and as a result one of the most natural, large estuaries in Europe. Tidal streams in the estuary are moderately strong and levels of wave energy can be high. This area is designated to protect certain types of habitat which are found in this area including the tidal rivers, mud flats, salt flats and salt marshes. This area also provides a migratory passage for sea lampreys and river lampreys, a type of jawless fish sometimes confused with an eel. These lampreys migrate from their spawning and nursery grounds via this estuary.

Designation Status
Last Updated
6 June 2017
MPA Type
Special Area of Conservation
MPA Purpose
areas which have been identified as best representing the range and variety within the European Union of habitats and (non-bird) species listed on Annexes I and II to the Directive


54° 54' 21" North,
3° 25' 32" West

Surface Area

437.13 km2
(168.78 mi.2 )


188.21 km
(116.95 mi.)

Iconic features protected by this site


  • Atlantic salt meadows (Atlantic salt meadows (Glauco-Puccinellietalia maritimae))
  • Estuaries
  • Intertidal mudflats and sandflats (Mudflats and sandflats not covered by seawater at low tide)
  • Reefs
  • Subtidal sandbanks (Sandbanks which are slightly covered by sea water all the time)


  • Sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus)


  • Glasswort and other annuals colonising mud and sand (Salicornia and other annuals colonising mud and sand)