West of Walney MCZ

Status: Designated


Site overview

West of Walney is a 156km2 area located just off the coast of Walney Island, Cumbria. The mud and sand which cover the seabed here are both brilliant habitats for wildlife. High densities of burrowing brittle stars live in the sandy areas, while urchins, worms and molluscs enjoy the mud, alongside the commercially important Dublin Bay prawn. Delicate sea pens also live on the West of Walney mud; their numbers are in decline. 

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

387.96 km2 (149.79 mi.2)


80.47 km (50.00 mi.)

  • Subtidal mud

    A very rich and diverse muddy undersea habitat that supports high numbers of worms, cockles and other shellfish, urchins and sea cucumbers as well as sea pens, burrowing anemones and brittlestars.

  • 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.

  • Sea-pen and burrowing megafauna communities

    Areas of stable muddy seabed, where animals burrow below and sea pens protrude from the surface. Sea pens are colonial animals that look a bit like quill pen.

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

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