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Inner Bank MPA

Status: Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ)

The Inner Bank MCZ lies 10 km south of Dungeness off the south coast of England, across the 12 nm territorial sea limit. Therefore, advice for this MPA is jointly delivered with Natural England.


The Inner Bank MCZ is located off the south coast of England in the English Channel region. The closest point lies approximately 10 km south of Dungeness. 

Most of the site falls in inshore territorial waters. However, the southern corner of the site falls in offshore waters beyond 12 nm from the coast. As the site lies across the 12 nm territorial sea limit, advice for this MPA is jointly delivered with Natural England.

The site covers an area of 199 km2, protecting a range of broad-scale habitats; Subtidal coarse sediment, Subtidal sand and Subtidal mixed sediments. Protection afforded to these designated habitats will allow a rich variety of colonising animal species (e.g. different types of polychaete worms, bivalve molluscs, anemones, starfish, urchins, sea firs, anemones and sea mats) to thrive.

More detailed site information can be found in the Summary section below.

Map displaying the Inner Bank MPA boundary and associated protected feature data. Visit JNCC's MPA Mapper to further view and explore data for this MPA.

Map showing Inner Bank Marine Protected Area and linking to the MPA mapper


Legislation behind the designation: Marine and Coastal Access Act (2009)


Protected Features

Protected Feature Feature Type
Subtidal coarse sediment Broad-scale habitat
Subtidal sand Broad-scale habitat
Subtidal mixed sediments Broad-scale habitat

Specific information on the conservation objectives related to this site is provided in the Conservation Advice section.

The acquisition of new data may result in updates to our knowledge on feature presence and extent within this site. The most up-to-date information is reflected on the map on this page and in JNCC’s MPA mapper and the evidence underpinning this can be viewed in the Monitoring and Evidence section.


Site Timeline

The diagram below is a summary of the key milestones involved in the selection and designation of the Inner Bank MCZ. More detail can be found in the Relevant Documentation section and in the post-consultation advice

September 2011
Regional Projects recommended a total of 127 rMCZs to Defra and the statutory nature conservation bodies (SNCBs).
June 2018 – July 2018
Inner Bank MCZ included in formal public consultation on Tranche Three MCZs.
May 2019
Tranche three designations announced – Inner Bank MCZ designated.


Relevant Documentation

The documents referred to below and any other historical documents relating to Inner Bank MCZ were produced during the selection and designation process and therefore may be out of date. This Site Information Centre is the most up-to-date source of information for this MPA, and will reflect any additional information gathered since these documents were produced. Further information about the Marine Conservation Zone site selection process and historic MCZ advice is available on JNCC's MCZ webpage.

  • Inner Bank MCZ Designation Order – the official description of the site designation under the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009. The Designation Order includes boundary co-ordinates, Conservation Objectives and a list of the designated features. More information on the Designation Order, including a designation map and factsheet is available on Defra's website.
  • JNCC's pre- and post-consultation scientific advice for features proposed for designation in 2019.
  • Natural England and JNCC's joint conservation advice for this site is available in the Conservation Advice section.



Last updated: July 2020

Information for this site summary was adapted from JNCC's scientific advice to Defra on Inner Bank MCZ and incorporates any further information gathered since this advice was produced. Please refer to the Relevant Documentation section for further details and information sources.


Site overview

The Inner Bank MCZ is located in the English Channel region, approximately 10 km south of Dungeness, extending south-west across the 12 nm territorial seas limit to waters south of Hastings. The site is 199 km2 in area, with depths ranging from approximately 10–50 m. This MCZ protects the broad-scale habitats Subtidal coarse sediment, Subtidal mixed sediments and Subtidal sand, which provide habitats to a variety of species including polychaete worms, bivalve molluscs (including anemones, starfish, urchins, sea firs, anemones and sea mats).

Further detail on the evidence for this MCZ can be found in the Monitoring and Evidence section.

Site location: Co-ordinates for this MCZ can be found in the Designation Order listed in the Relevant Documentation section.

Site area: 199 km2.

Site depth range: 10.1–50 m. 

Charting Progress 2 Biogeographic Region: Region 3 – English Channel Region.

Site boundary description: The site boundary is comprised of four geodesic lines forming a simple rectangle cutting through the territorial sea limit in the southern corner, in line with the guidance provided by the MCZ project Ecological Network Guidance (ENG). The boundary of the Inner Bank MCZ has not changed since it was recommended by the Finding Sanctuary Regional MCZ Project in 2011.


Monitoring and Evidence

Last updated: November 2023

Site-specific data

There are a range of data that underpin this MCZ. The full overview of these data used to support site identification along with information on confidence in feature presence and extent is available in JNCC's Tranche Three MCZ pre-consultation and post-consultation scientific advice for offshore Marine Conservation Zones proposed for designation in 2019. JNCC will be adding relevant survey data for this MPA to its MPA Mapper in due course.

Some of the data for this MCZ have been collected through JNCC-funded or collaborative surveys and some through other means. Data from these surveys provide direct evidence confirming the presence of the protected features within the site.


Survey and data gathering

  • Cefas/Natural England site verification survey of Inner Bank MCZ (2014) – A ground-truth survey of Inner Bank was carried out in January 2014 on the RV Cefas Endeavour cruise CEND0114. Ground truth samples were collected from 73 stations. A benthic grab was deployed successfully at 67 stations to collect sediments and infauna samples.  An underwater camera system was deployed successfully at 72 stations to collect video and still images of the seabed.


Data analysis reports

  • Inner Bank rMCZ Post-survey Site Report (2015) – Cefas undertook analysis of acoustic MBES data collected in 2006–2007 as part of UK’s Civil Hydrography Programme and ground-truthing from the Cefas CEND0114 dedicated site survey. These data were used to produce an updated habitat map and inform the presence of broadscale habitats and allow estimates to be made of their spatial extent within the site.


Knowledge gaps

As part of the UK Marine Monitoring and Assessment Strategy (UKMMAS), JNCC led the development of a UK Marine Biodiversity Monitoring Strategy, working with partners across the UK monitoring community. The Strategy spans UK territorial and offshore waters, focusing on biodiversity in the wider environment and within Marine Protected Areas.  Its aim is to implement efficient, integrated monitoring of marine biodiversity to provide the evidence needed for all the UK's policy drivers.

The evidence collected during MPA monitoring surveys is used in combination with other available evidence to:

  • Enable assessment of condition of the features within sites;
  • Contribute to the assessment of the degree to which management measures are effective in achieving the conservation objectives for the protected features;
  • Support the identification of priorities for future protection and/or management; and,
  • Enable Government to fulfil its national and international assessment and reporting commitments in relation to MPAs and help identify where further action may be required.

More detail on offshore MPA monitoring can be found on the Offshore MPA monitoring webpage. A list of monitoring surveys and relevant reports can be found on the MPA monitoring survey reports webpage.

If you are aware of any additional data not listed here or scientific papers relevant to this site, please contact us.


Conservation Advice

Last updated: October 2023

Natural England and JNCC have prepared joint draft conservation advice for Inner Bank MCZ. This advice is available through Natural England’s Designated Sites System for Inner Bank MCZ.

The advice reflects the most up-to-date evidence held by both Natural England and JNCC and must be taken into consideration when undertaking an assessment of the effects which a planned activity can have on the site’s integrity and when making decisions regarding management and consenting of marine activities in or near the site.

For more information on JNCC’s approach to conservation advice please see the 'Conserving MPAs' webpage. Information can also be found on Natural England's website



Published: .

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