Fal and Helford SAC

Status: Designated


Site overview

The Fal and Helford Special Area of Conservation in Cornwall is unique but sadly threatened by the port that wants to expand its accomodation for larger vessels by dredging a deep-water channel. Lying between the Manacles at the southwest point and St Anthony Head at the northeast point, it encompasses many habitats, species and industries. MCS and local sustainable fishers were instrumental in protecting the site in 2008 from scallop dredging, but the port and harbour masters that would like to dredge the bay represent bigger industry, and could be a greater threat to the site. Currently (Spring 2018) a lack of public funding for the dredge is hindering the applicants push for a license, but the harbour commissioners in particular is still using all means to try and get the license.

MPA Type

Special Area of Conservation

Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) are strictly protected sites designated under European legislation. They contribute both to the UK MPA network and set up to protect habitat types and species considered to be most in need of conservation at a European level (excluding birds).

Designation date

1 October 1996

Surface Area

63.60 km2 (24.56 mi.2)


230.57 km (143.27 mi.)

  • Atlantic salt meadows (Glauco-Puccinellietalia maritimae)

    Areas with specially adapted plants found in the upper reaches of saltmarshes that are not always reached by the tide. The habitat is used for grazing, but is also very important for birds.

  • Estuaries

    The downstream part of a river, where it nears the sea, which is influenced by the tide These complex habitats can include areas always submerged by the tide as well as those exposed at low tide. They can be exceptionally important feeding and breeding ar

  • Intertidal mudflats and sandflats (Mudflats and sandflats not covered by seawater at low tide)
  • Subtidal sandbanks

    Sandbanks which are slightly covered by sea water all the time

  • Shallow inlets and bays (Shallow inlets and bays)
  • Reefs

    Areas where the bedrock, stable boulders and cobbles or structures created by animals arise from the surrounding seabed. They attract and provide a home to a huge variety of plant and animal life.

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MCS has been heavily active in Seasearch diving the site, particularly since 2012.

Learn more about Seasearch

Did you know?…

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

An area over 9 times the size of Wales is now in marine protected areas in the UK, but less than 1% is considered by MCS scientists to be well managed

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