The Canyons MCZ

Status: Designated


Site overview

This site is located in the far south-west corner of the UK continental shelf and has a unique cold water coral reef feature within it, the only known reef of this type in England. The site is at the edge of the shelf, which drops away steeply and there are two large canyons within the site.  Seabirds and cetaceans have often been seen here. 

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

660.50 km2 (255.02 mi.2)


110.19 km (68.47 mi.)

  • Cold-water coral reefs

    Coral reefs aren’t confined to the tropics – we have a reef-forming coral of our own here in UK waters. They can form huge reefs - home to many animals. Unlike tropical corals they can thrive in dark, deep, cold water.

  • Deep-sea bed

    The deep sea begins at the edge of the continental shelf (the area of seabed around the UK which is shallower than the open ocean), which is usually at depths over 200m. 

Did you know?…

To the shelf limits, Scotland has 61% of UK waters, of which 23% are now in existing or new ‘marine protected areas’

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