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Orford Inshore MPA

Please be advised the draft conservation advice package for Orford Inshore MCZ was published on 18 March 2024. This is Natural England’s and JNCC’s draft conservation advice for the site and can be accessed via the conservation advice section of this Site Information Centre. Natural England have an invitation to comment period between 21 March 2024 to 13 June 2024 inclusive and can be found through Natural England’s Designated Sites System.

Status: Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ)

Orford Inshore MCZ lies off the Suffolk coast across the 12 nm territorial sea limit. Therefore advice for this MPA is jointly delivered with Natural England.


Located off the Suffolk coast in the Southern North Sea approximately 14 km offshore from the Alde Ore Estuary, Orford Inshore MCZ is a relatively shallow site which contains the protected broad-scale habitat feature Subtidal mixed sediments.

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

Orford Inshore MCZ is dominated by habitats composed of subtidal mixed sediments. These sediments are important as nursery and spawning grounds for many fish species, including Dover sole, lemon sole and sandeels. Species of anemones, sea cucumbers and starfish can also be found in the site, alongside several nationally important shark species.

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

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

Map showing Orford Inshore 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 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 in 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 Orford Inshore MCZ. More detail can be found within the Relevant Documentation section and in the post-consultation advice.

The diagram below is a summary of the key milestones involved in the selection and designation of Orford Inshore MCZ.

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


Relevant Documentation

The documents referred to below and any other historical documents relating to Orford Inshore 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.

  • Orford Inshore 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.



Last updated: July 2020

Information for this site summary was adapted from Natural England’s scientific advice to Defra on Orford Inshore 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

Orford Inshore MCZ is located off the Suffolk coast in the Southern North Sea, approximately 14 km offshore from the Alde Ore Estuary. The site is an area of continental shelf that is predominantly comprised of subtidal mixed sediments across the site extent.

The site protects a subtidal habitat that is representative of offshore habitats in UK waters. The site protects the broad-scale habitat Subtidal mixed sediments. This habitats is an important nursery and spawning grounds for many fish species, including Dover sole (Solea solea), lemon sole (Microstomus kitt) and sandeels.

Several nationally important shark species are also found within the site, including the small-spotted catshark (Scyliorhinus canicula). In addition, the area is important for foraging seabirds and harbour porpoise are often spotted passing through.

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: 72 km2.

Site depth range: 20–30 m.

Charting Progress 2 Biogeographic Region: Southern North Sea. 

Site boundary description: The boundary of Orford Inshore MCZ is comprised of six geodesic lines. The boundary of the Orford Inshore MCZ has not changed since it was recommended by the Net Gain 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 Natural England's Tranche Three MCZ post-consultation scientific advice for 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


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 information not referred to in the Relevant Documentation section or above, please contact us.


Conservation Advice

Last updated: March 2024

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