Mud Hole recommended Marine Conservation Zone

Dublin Bay prawn. Photo: Paul NaylorDublin Bay prawn. Photo: Paul Naylor

Dublin Bay prawns feature widely in this habitat and are of great interest to the fishing industry. The survival of this habitat is vital to the sustainability of this creature.

There is more life in muddy habitats than rainforests and coral reefs!

You can probably guess the main habitat that is found at Mud Hole ... mud! It’s something we have a lot of in the northern Irish Sea, but without it this region would be far poorer. It is home to a diverse range of creatures that form a vital part of the Irish Sea food web.

Mud Hole is deep-water mud, around 35m deep, located 21km off the coast of Cumbria and covers an area of 73km2. This is a perfect habitat for burrowing creatures such as Dublin Bay prawns, angular crabs and shrimps. Delicate sea pens and hydroids also make this mud their home, as do urchins and a variety of molluscs. A diverse number of worms also feature here, creating volcano-like domes on the seabed.

Unfortunately, intensive trawling for Dublin Bay prawns occurs in most muddy areas of the Irish Sea. There is currently no protection for any muddy habitats in the Irish Sea. It is critical that Mud Hole is protected as soon as possible to safeguard valuable species and habitats.

Special features of Mud Hole:

  • Muddy habitats are biodiversity hotspots – diverse as the Amazon Rainforest or coral reefs
  • Mud is rich in nutrients and important for carbon storage
  • Marine life in the mud here forms a vital part of the Irish Sea food web
  • The sea bed is teaming with burrowing creatures such as Dublin Bay prawns, angular crabs and shrimps
  • Sea pens, hydroids, sea urchins, molluscs and an abundance of worms also make this mud their home

Protection of Mud Hole would:

  • Remove a relatively small area from access to the fishing industry but it will yield long-term benefits
  • Allow Dublin Bay prawn populations to increase within the MCZ and may result in beneficial over-spill into adjacent fishing grounds
  • Offer protection for sensitive species like sea pens that are particularly sensitive to damage from trawling and are at high risk of being destroyed

This recommended Marine Conservation Zone is a potential site for consideration in the third round of public consultation, expected in 2017. 

The scientific advisors to the Government have identified this areas as at high risk of further damage and deterioration if it is not protected. The mud habitats are highly sensitive and are subject to high fishing activity for Dublin Bay Prawn (Nephrops). 

We need you to help ensure that this area is included in the third round of designations. We need you to help ensure that this site is designated. Become a Friend of this site to stay up-to-date with our campaign to see how you can help.

Location map

Mud Hole recommended MCZ can be found on the map below.

Contains UKHO Law of the Sea data. Crown copyright and database right and
contains Ordnance Survey Data Crown copyright and database 2012


Other MCZs nearby:

Cumbria Coast MCZ

West of Walney MCZ

Allonby Bay MCZ


FilenameFile size
Mud Hole recommended MCZ.pdf2.6 MB