Offshore Overfalls MCZ

Status: Designated


Site overview

The sea bed in this area is covered in sand and gravel; these provide important habitats for fish including sandeels, flat fish, starfish, rays, bass, turbot, brill, cod, tope and brown crabs.  This site is the one of the only sites in the region which is designated for the undulate ray. This is classed as ‘endangered’ on the IUCN threatened species list. With dwindling numbers, this ray is in serious decline - and this site could offer protection if it is properly managed.  The main feature of this area is the Overfalls in the north-west corner of the site. This area is used by large numbers of anglers to catch a range of fish. 

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

594.68 km2 (229.61 mi.2)


99.26 km (61.68 mi.)

  • Subtidal sand

    Sandy seascapes that can seem a bit like deserts, but can be full of life. Flat fish and sand eels camouflaged on the surface of the sand,worms and bivalves (with their paired, hinged shells) all live in places like these.

  • Subtidal coarse sediment

    Undersea beds of coarse sand, gravel and shingle. Most of the animals that live here, like bristleworms, sand mason worms, small shrimp-like animals, burrowing anemones, carpet shell clams and venus cockles, are found buried in the seabed – the safest pl

  • Subtidal mixed sediments

    Undersea beds of a mixture of stones, gravels, sands and muds. Because mixed seabeds are so varied, they may support a wide range of animals, both on and in the sediment.

  • English Channel Outburst Flood Features

    A seabed feature providing evidence of the catastrophic flooding which created the channel and permanently isolated Britain from mainland Europe.

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Seasearch have secured funding to dive this offshore site in 2018. It contains geologically-interesting features related to the opening of the English Channel, but there is a lack of data on the marine life there.

Learn more about Seasearch

Did you know?…

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

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