Greater Haig Fras MCZ

Status: Designated


Site overview

This site gets its name from the Haig Fras rock which is a geologically valuable, fully submersed outcrop of bedrock, the  only substantial area of rocky reef in the Celtic Sea. This area measures 2,041km2 and supports a huge variety of marine life. This includes fantastic jewel anemones, Devonshire cup corals and encrusting sponges. Communities of sponges, bryozoans and anemones cover the rocks, while sand and muddy zones provide a home to molluscs, worms and brittlestar beds.

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

2,040.84 km2 (787.97 mi.2)


189.64 km (117.84 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.

  • 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.

  • Haig Fras rock complex

    An isolated fully submarine bedrock outcrop.

Did you know?…

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

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