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What is a VMCA?


VMCAs are designated areas of coastline with wildlife and scientific value.


They are voluntarily run by a range of organisations and steering groups, often supported by community or volunteer groups, but have no legal form of protection.


The large numbers of visitors to Cornwall, combined with valuable and vulnerable wildlife, makes marine conservation important in this county.

Voluntary Marine Conservation Areas..... 


Why we need VMCAs:

The coastal and marine environment of Cornwall is recognised as being of both international and local importance for its incredible diversity of marine wildlife, from tiny rare colourful corals to giant basking sharks.

The county’s natural beauty attracts over 5.5 million tourists each year and the county’s coast is a popular destination for both visitors and residents. The large numbers of visitors to Cornwall, combined with valuable and vulnerable wildlife, makes marine conservation important in this county.

A robust marine environment is essential for the county’s economic, social and environmental future. However, the marine environment is in balance. It is important that we maintain this balance by encouraging sensible and sustainable use of our marine environment, which we are able to do through Voluntary Marine Conservation Areas.

As a voluntary designation, the role of the VMCA is not to impose restrictions but to engage communities and encourage sensible use of the natural resources in the area. In doing so, the marine environment of Cornwall will be protected for future generations to enjoy.

Polzeath Voluntary Marine Conservation Area:

Includes the ‘inter-tidal areas’ between the headland points of Pentire and Trebetherick, and the splash zone from Baby Bay to Pentire Point. At low tide, the exposed rocks on either side of Polzeath beach combine to form one of North Cornwall’s largest inter-tidal areas. This ‘oasis’ of rock provides a habitat that supports a wealth of important and delicate marine wildlife. PVMCA also includes a stretches of sand and gravel, which support a different variety of wildlife.


Offshore, dolphins can be spotted cruising by and even sometimes the elusive basking shark has been seen from the cliffs. The offshore islands support a plethora of bird life, including the rare puffin. Grey seals are also frequently seen just past the waves, occasionally coming closer in shore to play with the surfers who sit outback.


For more information on Polzeath’s incredible marine life, come visit our Marine Centre.

Polzeath Marine Centre:

In the centre of Polzeath, up the lane by Waterside towards Martin Taylor’s Valley campsite, is the treasure trove which is Polzeath Marine Centre.  Full of exciting finds, information boards, activities and leaflets to take away, there is something for everyone so please pop in and say hello.


Our aims as a VMCA:

  • protect and conserve the marine environment

  • raise awareness and increase understanding of the marine environment

  • encourage education and research within the marine environment.


We are attempting to meet these aims via the wide range of events we run, the beach cleans, marine surveys and associated data recorded from these, school safaris and the Marine Centre itself.

Links to other VMCAs in Cornwall:

St Agnes:





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