Kingmere MCZ

Status: Designated


Site overview

This site is located in the English Channel, between 5 and 10 km off the West Sussex coast to the South of Littlehampton and Worthing. It covers an area of around 47 km2. The vertical cliff face in this area is full of piddock burrows. Piddocks are bivalve shells, which burrow into the rock face leaving it pitted and weakened, but providing homes for other small animals such as squat lobsters and small purple urchins. This area also supports a wide range of marine life, such as algae, sea squirts and sponges, and is one of the most well-known (and possibly the most important) spawning sites for the black seabream in the UK. The rocky habitats and chalk outcrops found here provide an ideal nesting ground for this species. This fish has a unique breeding behaviour which has been observed here. Firstly, the male seabream seeks out specific types of seabed on which to spawn. They then use their tails to create nests within the sediment. The females lay their eggs in the nest and these are then guarded by the males until they hatch. After hatching, juvenile black seabream are known to remain in the vicinity of the nest for some time. This delicate spawning behaviour means the black seabream lives under constant threat from scallop dredging and other forms of bottom towed fishing gear, which churn up the seabed. 

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

47.75 km2 (18.44 mi.2)


31.55 km (19.61 mi.)

  • Black seabream (Spondyliosoma cantharus)

    A fairly large silvery fish, sometimes with dark stripes on its sides. Males make a nest on the seabed by clearing an area with their tail. They guard the nest and only leave the nest when the young fish have reached  a ertain size.

  • Subtidal chalk

    The chalk we see on our coastline can continue below the tide and create a very rich habitat for marine life. Becasue chalk is soft it is vulnerable to damage.

  • Moderate energy infralittoral rock and thin mixed sediments

    Shallow water rock, below the tides, with some shelter from waves and currents that is covered with a thin layer of mixed sediments.

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Seasearch has surveyed this site on a number of occasions. Worthing Lumps is part of this protected area and divers have seen the first Baillon’s wrasse in Sussex waters here. This is a rare fish to the UK, and is normally only found in Dorset and Galway.

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

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

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