Further preparations have taken place to drop more boulders on marine conservation zone off Cornwall by Greenpeace UK. Meanwhile, it has been reported that England’s marine regulator has blocked further action.


We covered last week the dropping of boulders by Greenpeace in the South West Deeps (East) Marine Conservation Zone off the coast of Cornwall on 1st September and the response from England’s marine regulator, the Marine Management Organisation (MMO). This is part of a series of actions by Greenpeace which began with a similar boulder drop on the Dogger Bank in 2020.

The South West Deeps (East) is a Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ) straddling the Western Channel and Celtic Sea, located roughly 190km south-west of Land’s End in Cornwall. The site covers an area of more than 4,600 km2 and reaches depths of 750m.

It has now been reported in a statement from the MMO that: “we were informed by Greenpeace on Wednesday 7 September that it intends to collect more boulders and drop them into the sea at South West Deeps in what it refers to as a peaceful protest to prevent “destructive bottom trawling”.

This would mean further boulder drops into the marine space without the required marine licences.

We are extremely disappointed that Greenpeace intends to continue with its actions. Greenpeace is aware of the work that is being undertaken by MMO to protect these sites and the process that must be followed, and Greenpeace was left in no doubt following the judicial comments in the previous court proceedings, that it is expected to comply with the marine licensing regime. We will continue to monitor and investigate as appropriate.” The statement can be read here.

Meanwhile, Greenpeace have said that the MMO has intervened and blocked further action. The NGO said on 8th September that “Greenpeace UK announced yesterday their intention to load more boulders onto the ship Arctic Sunrise in Poole Quay to extend the barrier they created last week, the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) threatened Poole Harbour Commissioners with legal action if they allowed the boulders into port. The gates to Bulwark Quay where the ship is berthed were also locked this morning, and the haulage company transporting the boulders also received a legal threat.” Click here to read more.

Separately, the Marine Conservation Society has conducted research on the MCZ and stated that the beam trawling that takes place erodes, uproots and crashes into species that are damaged by physical contact and cannot withstand the destructive effect of seabed trawls. The charity also estimates that the area also stores 1.67 Mt of carbon – equivalent to carbon emissions from 1,007,058 return flights from London to Sydney.


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