England's first Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ) has been announced as Lundy Island, home to seals and eight species of coral.
The island, which lies off the coast of Devon, is now the first example of the new approach to marine protection being taken under the Marine and Coastal Access Act.
Dr Helen Phillips, Natural England's chief executive, said following the announcement: "As England's first Marine Conservation Zone, Lundy represents the first step in delivering the marine protection ambitions of the Marine and Coastal Access Act, and it is fitting that an area of such obvious environmental importance is being designated in this way."
Lundy is home to grey seals, red band fish, crawfish and at least eight species of coral, and is the only place in the UK where five cup corals exist together.
Its importance was recognised by its designation as a Marine Nature Reserve in 1986 and it was also designated as a Special Area of Conservation in 2000 in recognition of the significance of its special habitats, which include reefs, sea caves and sandbanks.
Dr Phillips added: "Lundy is a showcase of what a well protected marine environment can become. Today's designation ushers in a new era of marine protection and it is important that the momentum to develop more Marine Conservation Zones is now sustained."
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