Plymouth Sound and Estuaries Special Area of Conservation (SAC) is located on the south coast of England and straddles the border between Devon and Cornwall. The SAC is a ria system with several marine inlets, including Plymouth Sound and its associated tributaries. The site is home to several nationally rare or scarce species, including red seaweed and stackhouse batters. It is also the only known spawning site for the allis shad.

Plymouth is a busy naval and commercial port, and management is needed to maintain the integrity of the site for nature. Like other estuaries, the pressures impacting upon it include commercial and naval shipping, commercial and recreational fishing and boating, as well as other water sports.

Plymouth. Photo credit Ocean Conservation Trust
Plymouth. Photo credit Ocean Conservation Trust

Plymouth Sound and Estuaries has been designated as a SAC for the estuarine and coastal features, including the wide-ranging mudflats and saltmarsh. These designated habitats are highly productive systems, forming a critical part of the food chain. They contain widespread and diverse infaunal communities rich in bivalves and other invertebrates and provide important feeding grounds for internationally important wildfowl. Notably, the only known natural population of the triangular club-rush in England is found on the Tamar.

Saltmarsh is an uncommon habitat in the south west of England and provides important roosting areas for birds. The site is home to communities of slender sea pens, fan mussels, and the nationally scarce tentacled lagoon worm. The saltmarsh fringes and seagrass act as nursery areas for commercially important juvenile bass.

The latest from this SAC


Restoration team - credit Ocean Conservation Trust

England’s largest seagrass planting programme underway

Today (21 April 2021), work on England’s largest seagrass planting effort is taking place in Plymouth Sound National Marine Park. It is estimated that the UK may have lost up to 92 per cent of its seagrass1. Factors including wasting disease, pollution and physical disturbance have been identified as contributing causes.  Seagrass meadows provide homes…




Now that summer is here and public events are slowly starting to return, the ReMEDIES partnership is getting out and about to showcase our work. Over the weekend of Saturday 17 and Sunday 18 July, we attended The Sail Grand Prix – a huge event in the sailing calendar. It features teams racing against each…

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