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Kentish Knock East MPA

Status: Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ)

Kentish Knock East MCZ is located approximately 35 km off the east coast of England in the outer Thames Estuary.

The Kentish Knock East MCZ lies in the southern North Sea, across the 12 nm territorial sea limit. Therefore advice for this MPA is jointly delivered with Natural England.

Site

Located 35 km off the east coast of England, Kentish Knock East MCZ is in the outer Thames Estuary. It is an inshore site with a small offshore section beyond 12 nautical miles from the coast.

The site lies across the 12 nm territorial sea limit, and therefore advice for this MPA is jointly delivered with Natural England.

Kentish Knock East MCZ protects examples of Subtidal coarse sediment, Subtidal sand and Subtidal mixed sediments. The seabed within the site is dominated by Subtidal mixed sediments, with a band of Subtidal sand and Subtidal coarse sediment in the deeper eastern part of the site. These protected broad-scale habitat features of the site support a range of animal species including ribbon and segmented worms, bivalve molluscs such as Abra alba and Kurtiella bidentata and echinoderms such as the brittlestar (Ophiura albida). Cnidarians, such as the anemone Urticina felina are also present alongside a variety of crustaceans including crab species and the burrowing shrimp (Callianassa subterranea). Fish species supported by the site include the small spotted cat shark (Scyliorhinus canicula) and flatfish species. Ross worm (Sabellaria spinulosa) reefs were also observed in three locations at the site, though the extent of these reefs could not be determined.

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

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

Map showing Kentish Knock East Marine Protected Area and linking to the MPA mapper

Legislation

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

 

Protected Features

EUNIS Code: Protected Feature Feature Type
A5.1: Subtidal coarse sediment Broad-scale habitat
A5.2: Subtidal sand Broad-scale habitat
A5.4: 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 Evidence section.

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Site Timeline

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

September 2011
Regional projects recommended a total of 127 MCZs to Defra and the CNCBs.
June 2018 – July 2018
Kentish Knock East rMCZ included in formal consultation on Tranche Three rMCZs.
May 2019
Tranche Three designations announced – Kentish Knock East MCZ designated.

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Relevant Documentation

The documents referred to below and any other historical documents relating to Kentish Knock East 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.

  • Kentish Knock East 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, including a designation map and factsheet is available on Defra's website.
  • Natural England's pre- and post-consultation scientific advice for features proposed for designation in 2019.
  • Natural England and JNCC's formal conservation advice for this site is available in the Conservation Advice section.

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Summary

Last updated: June 2020

Information for this site summary was adapted from Natural England’s scientific advice to Defra on Kentish Knock East MCZ and incorporates any further information gathered since this advice produced. Please refer to the Relevant Documentation section for further details and information sources.

 

Site overview

Kentish Knock East MCZ is situated approximately 35 km off the east coast of England in the outer Thames Estuary. It covers an area of 96.4 km2 and is relatively shallow, ranging in depth from 19–52 m. The site is located across one of several impressive sandbanks that have formed in the outer Thames Estuary between Kent and Essex. The seabed is predominantly mixed sediments with areas of sandy sediment and coarse gravel and pebbles towards the deeper eastern boundary of the site.

Kentish Knock East MCZ protects examples of Subtidal coarse sediment, Subtidal sand, Subtidal mixed sediments. This range of sediment habitats support a wide variety of animal species including worms, sponges, bivalve molluscs and echinoderms such as brittlestars and sea urchins. This diversity of species found on the surface and within the sediment also supports fish species including the small spotted cat shark (Scyliorhinus canicula) and flatfish species.

Kentish Knock East MCZ was proposed for designation in 2011 by the Balanced Seas regional MCZ project group and was designated in May 2019 as part of the third Tranche of MCZ designations. Evidence for the broad-scale habitats Subtidal coarse sediment, Subtidal sand, Subtidal mixed sediments was provided by the MB0129 survey in 2014, along with data from a Cefas survey (1998), the (2008) Outer Thames Estuary Regional environmental characterisation survey and data from the Greater Gabbard windfarm survey 2004/2005.

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

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

Site area: 96.4 km2.

Site depth range: 19–52 m.

Charting Progress 2 Biogeographic Region: Southern North Sea.

Site boundary description: The site is a simple polygon with eight boundary lines, in line with the guidance provided by the MCZ project Ecological Network Guidance (ENG). The eastern boundary of the site extends beyond the 12 nm territorial seas limit. The boundary of the Kentish Knock East MCZ has not changed since it was recommended by the Balanced Seas Regional MCZ Project in 2011.

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Evidence

Last updated: June 2020

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 Natural England’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 Defra-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.

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Conservation Advice

Last updated: June 2020

The overarching conservation objectives for the site is for its designated features either to remain in or reach favourable condition. The ability of a designated feature to remain in or reach favourable condition can be affected by its sensitivity to pressures associated with activities taking place within or in close proximity to a protected site.

Formal conservation advice is not currently available for this MPA and will be added in due course. JNCC will work alongside Natural England to develop a joint conservation advice package for this site.

In the interim, please see Natural England's Tranche 3 MCZ post-consultation advice for more detail.

Further information on Natural England’s conservation advice for Marine Protected Areas can be found on the Natural England website.

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Activities and Management

Last updated: June 2020

Management status: To be assessed.

Information on the management for the site can be found in the Kentish Knock East MCZ Factsheet.

This site forms part of the UK's contribution to the OSPAR Commission's network of MPAs. As the UK is a contracting party to the OSPAR Commission, JNCC is committed to ensuring that the OSPAR MPA network is 'well-managed' by 2020.

JNCC considers 'well-managed' to mean the timely progress of an MPA around the 'MPA management cycle'. This involves:

  1. The documentation of appropriate management information – conservation objectives, advice on activities capable of affecting the protected features of a site, and spatial information on the presence and extent of the protected features of a site.
  2. The implementation of management measures – management actions considered necessary to achieve the conservation objectives of a site.
  3. Site condition monitoring programmes – collecting the information necessary to determine progress towards a site's conservation objectives.
  4. Assessment of progress towards conservation objectives – using available information to infer whether or not a site is moving towards or has achieved its conservation objectives.

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Monitoring

Last update: June 2020

For MPAs, data and evidence collected from monitoring activities will aim to:

  • Enable assessment of condition of the features within sites;
  • Enable 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.

Information on monitoring of this MPA will be provided when it becomes available.

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Assessment

Last updated: June 2020

Assessments of the condition of designated features in offshore MPAs are required to report against our legal obligations. Ideally these assessments should be based on observed data, and then measured against targets for pre-defined indicators. However, for MPAs in offshore waters we do not always have the appropriate information to be able to do so. This is particularly true for seabed habitats, which are the main type of feature designated for protection in offshore MPAs.

To address these challenges, JNCC has been an active partner in the development of new approaches and tools for the assessment of habitats and species for a variety of national and international status reports.

 

Conservation Assessment Reports

Under Section 124 of the UK Marine & Coastal Access Act (2009), JNCC is required to report to Ministers every six years on the degree to which the conservation objectives of the protected features of Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) have been achieved. Every six years from 2012, the Marine Act requires a report setting out how MCZs have performed against their conservation objectives, as well as the effectiveness of the network as a whole.

To date, three reports have been published, each setting out progress being made in implementing a Marine Protected Area network, covering the following areas:

Outputs of assessments that feed into Marine Act reporting also feed into reporting under other obligations.

 

UK State of the Seas Reports & UK Marine Strategy Part 1

Charting Progress 2 (CP2) published in 2010, is a comprehensive report on the state of the UK seas. It was published by the UK Marine Monitoring and Assessment Strategy (UKMMAS) community which has over 40 member organisations. The report was based on a robust, peer-reviewed evidence base and describes progress made since the publication of Charting Progress in 2005. It provides key findings from UK marine research and monitoring for use by policy makers and others, as we move towards the UK vision of clean, healthy, safe, productive and biologically diverse oceans and seas. The results from CP2 were incorporated into the UK Marine Strategy Part 1: UK Initial Assessment and Good Environmental Status published in 2012 under the UK Marine Strategy Regulations (2010). The UK Marine Strategy Part 1 (2012) also set out the UK’s definition for Good Environmental Status, which could be achieved by meeting a series of environmental targets. JNCC worked with other organisations in the UKMMAS community to develop a series of indicators that were used to assess progress against each of the targets and to report on progress made since 2012. The results of these assessments have been published in the UK Marine Strategy Part 1: UK Updated Assessment and Good Environmental Status in 2019. Detailed evidence used to make these assessments is available via the Marine Online Assessment Tool (MOAT). It also sets out proposals for updated high-level objectives, targets and operational targets to be used for 2018 to 2024, which build on those set in 2012.

It is worth noting the two other parts of the UK Marine Strategy: UK Marine Strategy Part Two: marine monitoring programmes, published in 2014 and UK Marine Strategy Part Three: programme of measures published in 2015. Updates to these will be made in 2020 and 2021 respectively.

 

OSPAR Quality Status Reports

Many of the assessments in the updated UK Marine Strategy Part 1 2019 were developed and produced in collaboration with other contracting Parties of the OSPAR Convention for the Protection of the North East Atlantic. In 2017 OSPAR published its Intermediate Assessment (IA2017). The IA 2017 further develops OSPAR’s understanding of the marine environment of the North-East Atlantic and its current status. It demonstrates OSPAR’s progress towards realising its vision of a clean, healthy and biologically diverse North-East Atlantic, used sustainably. IA2017 follows on from OSPAR’s previous holistic assessment, the OSPAR Quality Status Report in 2010 (QSR2010) and in 2000 (QSR2000).

 

Development and tools

JNCC continues to develop and pilot tools for the assessment of marine habitats and species in offshore waters to improve the quality and transparency of our offshore MPA assessments, and contribute to the monitoring of marine biodiversity in UK waters. These tools cover methods for producing interim assessments of site features and their responses to pressures, as well as developing more robust indicators for determining condition of the features.

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