Marine Nature Reserve


Marine Nature Reserve is a UK designation officially made by the government. It has similar statusNot an MNR and protection to an National Nature ReservePages marked with this symbol are exclusively written for Naturenet (NNR), but is particularly concerned with a marine environment. Marine Nature Reserves (MNRs) are created by statute (under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981) to conserve marine flora and fauna and geological or physiographical features of special interest, while providing opportunities for study of the systems involved. MNRs may be established within 3 nautical miles of the coast under the Territorial Seas Act 1987 or, by an Order in Council, to the limits of UK territorial waters; they include both the sea and the seabed. MNRs can be protected by bylaws.

There are relatively few MNRs yet designated. Probably the best known is Lundy Island, designated an MNR in 1986. The only other ones formally designated are Skomer Island and Strangford Lough. However, there are also numerous informal marine nature reserves, with no special statutory protection. Examples include Purbeck and St Georges Island. Part of the reason for this lack of formal designation is the complexity of the legal process necessary to do so. Although land is owned by landowners, the seabed is not (usually); and so the normal planning and other legal controls over land use do not operate below low water mark.