Natural England Conservation Advice for Marine Protected Areas
Whitsand and Looe Bay MCZ

Natural England guidance

This site collection contains Natural England’s conservation advice for this site. It fulfils Natural England’s responsibility under the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009, to give advice on how to further the conservation objectives for the site, identify the activities that are capable of affecting the designated features and the processes which they are dependent upon.

Natural England's conservation advice for this site is made up of a number of components. You will need to consider: Additional information for consideration:

Site information

Site name: Whitsand and Looe Bay MCZ
Designation type: MCZ
Site identification: UKMCZ0021
Latest designation date: 31 May 2019
Designated features
(click to see site specific description):

General information on the site features:
The general information on the designated features from the MCZ features catalogue is useful for understanding the designated features, and should be used in conjunction with the site specific information.
Designated area (ha): 5217
Moderation/boundary changes: The site was designated on 12 December 2013. Giant goby (Gobius cobitis), Moderate energy circalittoral rock, Stalked jellyfish (Calvadosia campanulata) and Stalked jellyfish (Calvadosia cruxmelitensis) were added as protected features on 31 May 2019.
Component Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI):
Overlapping Protected Areas:

Last updated: 13th March 2020

Background information and geography

The Whitsand and Looe Bay MCZ is an inshore site located on the south coast of Cornwall. The landward site boundary follows the coastline along the mean high water mark, from Hore Stone near Talland Bay in the west, to a point between Queener Point and Long Cove on Rame Head in the east. The seaward boundary is formed by a straight line across the bay, with a small extension jutting out to the south around Looe Island. The site covers an area of 5217ha and is approximately 25 meters deep at the deepest point.

Whitsand Bay is a 6 km stretch of sand, shingle and rock, with gullies that have been carved by strong tides and cross-currents. The MCZ encompasses a range of habitats supporting a diverse array of marine life. The site contains intertidal and subtidal sand and coarse sediment habitats, as well as intertidal rocky habitats.

The sediment communities support populations of bivalves and marine worms and provide habitats for commercially important fish and shellfish. There are extensive seagrass beds within the shallower part of the site. These are likely to provide a nursery ground for ecologically and commercially important species such as cuttlefish. The ocean quahog (Arctica islandica) has been recorded within sediment habitats in the site.

The site’s intertidal rocky habitats are characterised by animals such as sponges, bryozoans, anemones and sea squirts, and support a high diversity of seaweeds and invertebrates. The rocks around Hannafore in Looe Bay are especially rich in intertidal species. The rocky habitats also support commercially important species such as common lobster and edible crab, and the rare giant goby has been recorded in mid-shore rockpools within the site.

Further out to sea there are shipwrecks and areas of subtidal rocky reef that support pink sea-fans (Eunicella verrucosa) and rare sea-fan anemones, both of which are protected within the site. Stalked jellyfish (Haliclystus sp.), (Calvadosia campanulata) and (Calvadosia cruxmelitensis) are also present within this MCZ.

Site maps

Use the MAGIC website to see site maps, including habitats, species and other marine designations.

These maps are based on best available evidence, there are some caveats associated with the maps on MAGIC.

The dynamic nature of habitat features and supporting habitats for mobile species is illustrated where data is available, as new evidence becomes available these maps will be updated with our current knowledge of their known extent.

Conservation objectives

The site’s conservation objectives apply to the Marine Conservation Zone and the individual species and/or habitats for which the site has been designated (the “Designated features” listed below).

The conservation objective of the zone is that the protected features:

  1. are maintained in favourable condition if they are already in favourable condition
  2. be brought back to favourable condition if they are not already in favourable condition

For each protected feature, favourable condition means that, within a zone:

  1. its extent is stable or increasing
  2. its structure and functions, its quality, and the composition of its characteristic biological communities (including diversity and abundance of species forming part of or inhabiting the habitat) are sufficient to ensure that its condition remains healthy and does not deteriorate.

Any temporary deterioration in condition is to be disregarded if the habitat is sufficiently healthy and resilient to enable its recovery.

For each species of marine fauna, favourable condition means that the population within a zone is supported in numbers which enable it to thrive, by maintaining:

  1. the quality and quantity of its habitats
  2. the number, age and sex ratio of its population

Any temporary reduction in numbers of a species is to be disregarded if the population is sufficiently thriving and resilient to enable its recovery. Any alteration to a feature brought about entirely by natural processes is to be disregarded when determining whether a protected feature is in favourable condition.

Designated features:

  • High energy intertidal rock
  • Moderate energy intertidal rock
  • Low energy intertidal rock
  • Intertidal coarse sediment
  • Intertidal sand and muddy sand
  • Seagrass beds
  • Subtidal coarse sediment
  • Subtidal sand
  • Ocean quahog (Arctica islandica)
  • Pink sea-fan (Eunicella verrucosa)
  • Sea-fan anemone (Amphianthus dohrnii)
  • Stalked jellyfish (Haliclystus sp.)
  • Giant goby (Gobius cobitis)
  • Moderate energy circalittoral rock
  • Stalked jellyfish (Calvadosia campanulata)
  • Stalked jellyfish (Calvadosia cruxmelitensis)

This should be read in conjunction with the accompanying supplementary advice section, which provides more detailed information to help achieve the objectives set out above, including which attributes should be maintained and which recovered.

Supplementary Advice on Conservation Objectives

See supplementary advice on conservation objectives for this site, which aim to describe the range of ecological attributes that are most likely to contribute to a site’s overall integrity.

Last updated: 13th March 2020

Advice on Operations

See the advice on operations for this site to view information on the sensitivity of features in this site to the pressures exerted by different activities.

Last updated: 13th March 2020

Feature Condition

In 2016, Natural England trialled and rolled out a new Marine Protected Area (MPA) condition assessment methodology that provides robust results and information on the condition of marine features designated within MPAs in England. With guidance from National teams and using all available evidence and condition monitoring data, Area Teams conduct these assessments following a standardised approach that assesses if the feature and sub feature conservation targets set for each MPA have been met.

To date, condition assessments have been completed for a number of features in a range of marine Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) by the National and Area Teams. Further marine habitat features in SACs and other MPAs will continue to be assessed in the future. The new method can now also be applied to complete habitat and species condition assessments for other MPAs in England, whilst still meeting the different processes in place to report on the results of condition of features in Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) and Special Protection Areas (SPAs). Different processes are currently in place to decide and report on the condition of non-marine habitat and species features of SACs.

The main part of the assessment process is directly undertaken and stored here on Natural England’s Designated Sites View. The details for the most recent assessments of this site can be found here.

Management measures

If you are carrying out an environmental assessment, planning an operation or assessing an operation or proposal, it is important to consult with the following organisations where applicable. To find out if any management measures, byelaws or other restrictions apply to your activity see the management measure page or you can use the following links for more information.

The Marine Management Organisation license, regulate and plan marine activities in the seas around England and Wales so that they’re carried out in a sustainable way.
Environment Agency are responsible for regulating major industry and waste, water quality and resources, fisheries, inland river, estuary and harbour navigations, conservation and ecology.
Offshore Petroleum Regulator for the Environment and Decommissioning (OPRED) regulates oil and gas, CCS and gas storage activities in the marine environment.

Further information

For further information relating to this designated site you can refer to the following resources:
Site specific information: Other information:
For further information about this site contact: Natural England enquiries Telephone: 0300 060 3900. Email: