Natural England Conservation Advice for Marine Protected Areas
Runswick Bay MCZ

This advice is draft. Once this advice is published as formal advice it becomes Natural England’s statutory advice and replaces the previous advice packages. In the interim, the draft advice should be used as a basis for informing management and case work as it reflects the most up-to-date evidence held by Natural England.

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

Overarching site: Runswick Bay MCZ
Site name: Runswick Bay MCZ
Designation type: MCZ
Site identification: UKMCZ0039
Latest designation date: 29 January 2016
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): 6551.36
Moderation/boundary changes: No boundry changes have been made since designation.
Component Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI):
Overlapping Protected Areas:

Last updated: 16th March 2018

Background information and geography

Runswick Bay MCZ is located north-west of Whitby, on the North Yorkshire Coast. The inshore boundary lies along a stretch of shoreline to the north-west of Whitby and extends seawards to a distance of approximately 7 km. The depth range of the site is 10 m above mean low water mark to 30 m deep (Barnard and Vaughan, 2011). The entire site encompasses a total surface area of approximately 68 km² including intertidal and subtidal features. This site is of particular interest as it contains a matrix of broad scale habitats each supporting diverse and unique communities (Barnard and Vaughan, 2011). These habitats include subtidal sand; subtidal mud; mixed sediment; coarse sediments, as well as rocky intertidal and subtidal features. It is also designated for the presence of Ocean Quahog (Arctica islandica) a bivalve noted for its extreme longevity. It is considered to be one of the longest living non-colonial organisms and has been recorded living to 507 years old (Sabatini et al., 2008).

The habitats noted above support a range of marine species. Dead man’s fingers (Alcyonium digitatum) is characteristic of the site, as is Flustra folicea and European Lobster (Homarus gammarus). Other invertebrates include Velvet Swimming Crab (Necora puber) and Common Sun Star (Crossaster papposus) as well as many infaunal species. Notable vertebrates recorded in Runswick Bay include Cuckoo Skate (Leucoraja naevus) and Lemon Sole (Microstomus kitt)(Godsell, 2014).

Runswick Bay MCZ area is also notable as a spawning area for fish species, as well as the regular presence of marine mammals. The boundary of the site is aligned with an exisiting year-round no trawl zone which will have afforded a level of protection to the interest features of the site (Barnard and Vaughan, 2011).

Runswick Bay is popular as a tourist destination due to its attractive appearance and a mix of sandy beach and rocky shore.

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.

Conservation objectives

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

The conservation objective of each of the zones is that the protected habitats:

  1. Are maintained in favourable condition if they are already in favourable condition.
  2. Be brought into 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 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.

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.

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

Designated features:

  • High energy intertidal rock
  • Moderate energy intertidal rock
  • Low energy intertidal rock
  • Intertidal sand and muddy sand
  • Moderate energy infralittoral rock
  • Moderate energy circalittoral rock
  • Subtidal coarse sediment
  • Subtidal mixed sediment
  • Subtidal mud
  • Subtidal sand
  • Ocean Quahog (Arctica islandica)

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: 16th March 2018

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: