About Us > Project Structure

About Net Gain: The North Sea Marine Conservation Zones Project

The UK has signed up to international agreements that aim to establish an 'ecologically coherent network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)' by 2012. This means the network will be a collection of areas that work together to provide more benefits than an individual area could on its own. The UK MPA network will be made up of several designations, including new Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs)..In the inshore waters of England and the offshore waters of England, Wales and Northern Ireland the network will consist of MCZs, European Marine Sites, SSSIs and Ramsar Sites.

Net Gain has been established to work with stakeholders to identify and recommend MCZs in the English North Sea only.

For more information on MPAs and Marine Conservation Zones, please visit our 'About MPAs'section

How to get involved

How it all fits together

Net Gain's structure is designed to ensure that advice and input from stakeholders and the best available science are integral to the development of the region's MCZs. The Project Team, Stakeholder Advisory Panel, Regional Hubs, Project Board and National Science Advisory Panel each have a role to play in guiding the project to a successful conclusion.

Making Good Decisions

Net Gain is fundamentally about shared decision making. From the earliest planning stages, we are working closely with stakeholders to explore where MCZs could be best located, identifying potential areas of conflict and trying, where possible, to find ways to work around them.

Finding MCZ sites, which provide maximum benefits to nature and minimise the impact to stakeholders is central to the success of Net Gain.

As well as collating existing scientific information such as hydrographic data, geology, seabed type, distribution of wildlife, and known fish spawning grounds, we are also seeking information from thousands of people in our project area. We would like to learn how you use the seas for your livelihood and leisure and find out what you know about the marine environment. We are using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and decision support software to help underpin, guide and support the MCZ planning process. These are powerful software tools which we will use to visualise, understand and analyse the extensive information we are gathering.

Software tools are powerful but they cannot replace people in making decisions. Therefore, this whole process is driven by the Net Gain Regional Hubs, where the 'hands on' planning and decision making takes place, and the Stakeholder Advisory Panel. Both are made up of members who represent different marine interest groups such as commercial fishing, sea angling, nature conservation and water sports. They ensure that any decisions made are solid, fair, balanced and in line with the project goals. We believe that this approach is rooted in common sense, and ensures impartiality in decision making.

Latest News
[Net News]

Net Gain Final Recommendations available to download now

New Economist for Net Gain

click for more...
Find out more about MCZs
click here...
Home | About Us | Planning MCZs | National Context | Get Involved | Latest News | FAQs | About MPAs | Gallery | Current Vacancies