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Marine Nature Reserves

Marine Nature Reserves (MNRs) are a type of Marine Protected Area, an area of the sea protected from some damaging activities and impacts, and usually intended to conserve particular species and habitats, or enable their recovery. Marine Protected Areas are a well-established tool for achieving these objectives and have been successfully used around the world to benefit marine conservation and fisheries.

The Isle of Man has had legislation for designating Marine Nature Reserves since 1990 (under the Wildlife Act) and the first, Ramsey Marine Nature Reserve, was established in 2011 as a result of the Manx Marine Nature Reserve Project. The Isle of Man has also had a network of Closed and Restricted Areas, established for fisheries management and research purposes, and which acted as marine protected areas to enable sustainable fisheries management as part of the government’s Fisheries Strategy (‘Future Fisheries’). These marine protected areas also contain some important marine species and habitats.

The Isle of Man is signatory to the Convention on Biological Diversity and as a result developed the Isle of Man’s Biodiversity Strategy (‘Protecting Our Natural Wealth’), which contains a commitment to protect at least 10% of Manx waters by 2020.

The combination of these related considerations: the Manx Marine Nature Reserve Project, ‘Future Fisheries’ strategy, Biodiversity strategy and international treaty objectives, resulted in two public consultations on an inshore marine zoning plan (2016) and marine nature reserve designations (2017).  The outcome of this is that all of our marine protected areas have been re-designated, from 1st September 2018, as Marine Nature Reserves.

This change will serve several purposes: providing consistency across our marine protected areas, specific protection of habitats and species under the Wildlife Act 1990 (whereas previously most were only related to fisheries management), meeting our international commitments, and providing opportunities for future management within a statutory framework, e.g. specific zoning for conservation or activities.

The new designations take the number of MNRs to 10 (details here), which cover 10.8% of the entire territorial sea and 51.8% of the inshore (0-3 nautical mile area).

Marine Nature ReserveArea (km2)% Area 0-3 nm
Baie ny Carrickey MNR 11.37 1.37%
Douglas Bay MNR 4.64 0.56%
Langness MNR 88.67 10.67%
Laxey Bay MNR 3.97 0.48%
Little Ness MNR 10.15 1.22%
Niarbyl Bay MNR 5.66 0.68%
Port Erin Bay MNR 4.34 0.52%
Ramsey Bay MNR 96.98 11.67%
Calf and Wart Bank MNR 20.15 2.42%
West Coast MNR 184.82 22.24%
Total MNRs 430.75 51.84%

Marine Nature Reserves are managed by the Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture, in close collaboration with its fisheries science advisors and other stakeholders including the fishing industry and recreational users. Specific management plans for each MNR will be developed over the coming years with significant input from a variety of marine stakeholders.

Meanwhile, DEFA will continue to collect scientific information about our marine environment to inform decision making and ensure that important areas and their biodiversity are protected, whilst also enabling our seas to contribute, directly and indirectly, to the sustainable development of the island’s economy.

Marine Nature Reserves map 2018

Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture

Dr Peter Duncan

Fisheries Directorate

Thie Slieau Whallian

Foxdale Road

St John's

Isle of Man


Telephone:+44 1624 685884

Email:Send Email

Fisheries Directorate

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