Upper Fowey and Pont Pill MCZ

Status: Designated


Site overview

This site is made up of two spatially separate areas. These estuary sites are located on the Cornish coast and protect a total area of 2 km2, making it one of the smallest Marine Conservation Zones (MCZ), a type of Marine Protected Area.  These are important estuary habitats which are relatively unique, as they contain rocky habitats not usually found in estuaries. These rocks provide important nursery grounds for fish such as sea trout and bass. Large seaweeds, wracks and kelps are found on the rocky areas of shoreline. Amongst these are crustaceans, including barnacles and shore crabs, marine molluscs including periwinkles and top shells, and occasionally sponges and sea squirts.  Below the water anemones, sponges, sea mats and sea squirts are often found growing on rocky surfaces. 

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

2.05 km2 (0.79 mi.2)


36.20 km (22.49 mi.)

  • 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

  • Low energy intertidal rock

    Rocky seashores, sheltered from waves and currents dominated by seaweeds and exposed at low tide.

  • 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.

  • Intertidal coarse sediment

    Where small rocks, pebbles, and gravel, sometimes mixed with coarse sand are sometimes covered by the tide. While it may not look like much lives there - there are animals specially adapted to live in the moist spaces between the shingle and gravel.

  • 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

  • Estuarine rocky habitats

    Estuaries are usually soft, muddy places, so rock and stable boulders in estuaries are rare and offer a great habitat for a wide variety of plants and animals.

  • Sheltered muddy gravels

    Muddy gravels occur mainly in estuaries, drowned river valleys and sea lochs, in areas protected from wave action and strong tidal streams. They can be found both on the shore and in the shallows.

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This busy estuary is very difficult to survey with divers due to commercial and recreational boat traffic.

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Did you know?…

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

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