Over 20 new protected areas in the UK's seas have been announced to help preserve habitats and wildlife.

The new marine conservation zones designated by the Government include cold water coral reefs, sea fan 'forests', canyons and sandbanks.

It's vital that we protect our marine environment to ensure our seas remain healthy, our fishing industry remains prosperous and future generations can enjoy our beautiful beaches, coastline and waters. By designating these new marine conservation zones and creating a blue belt of protected areas around the country, we can better protect our environment through careful marine management in years to come. >

Marine Environment Minister George Eustice

The 23 marine conservation zones are:

North Sea:

  • Fulmar

  • Farnes East

  • Coquet to St Mary's

  • Runswick Bay

  • Holderness Inshore

  • Cromer Shoal Chalk Beds

Runsiwck Bay has been named among the new UK habitat and wildlife protected zones. Credit: Anna Gowthorpe / PA Archive/PA Images

South East:

  • The Swale Estuary

  • Dover to Deal

  • Dover to Folkestone

  • Offshore Brighton

  • Offshore Overfalls

  • Utopia

  • The Needles

Tintagel has joined a tranche of protected areas covering 4,155 square miles. Credit: Dave Thompson/Route One Photography / PA Images

South West:

  • Western Channel

  • Mounts Bay

  • Runnel Stone

  • Newquay and The Gannel

  • Hartland Point to Tintagel

  • Bideford to Foreland Point

  • North-West of Jones Bank

  • Greater Haig Fras

Irish Sea:

  • West of Walney

  • Allonby Bay

The second tranche of protected areas covering 4,155 square miles, and bringing the total so far to 50 marine conservation zones, was welcomed by conservationists as a step to creating a "blue belt" in the UK's seas

Joan Edwards, head of living seas at the Wildlife Trusts, said: "We look forward to working with the Government and stakeholders to ensure these 50 marine conservation zones are properly managed and to achieve the much-needed ambitious and comprehensive third and final tranche.

"This will be the start of turning our over-fished, over-exploited and currently under-protected waters back into a healthy and sustainable environment."