However, this is still a long way off what is needed for a full network of protection to reduce the considerable decline in marine biodiversity in English waters.
At a meeting of stakeholders in London to discuss the development of the UK’s Marine Protected Area network, Defra announced the list of sites but said the official consultation on the 2nd tranche of MCZs won’t begin until early 2015.
It’s good news that the Government has recognized the importance of providing more detail on which sites they are focusing on along with potential management measures. In the past, due to lack of information, there was some scaremongering and hype that the MCZs would prevent all activities when in most instances, low impact fishing and recreation will continue as before, though bottom towed gear will of course need managing.
It’s good to hear which sites Government has prioritised for the 2nd tranche of MCZs, but this is still a long way off the full network.
Melissa Moore, Senior Policy Officer said “It’s good to hear which sites Government has prioritised for the 2nd tranche of MCZs, but this is still a long way off the full network. We hope this 2nd tranche, along with the promised 3rd tranche are designated as soon as possible to prevent further damage. As before, we will help gather more data on the inshore sites through our volunteer Seasearch divers this year, but Government must designate more offshore sites for broadscale habitats too.”
27 MCZs were designated in the first tranche in November 2013 - one hundred shy of the 127 originally recommended as necessary to deliver England’s contribution to an Ecologically Coherent Network in UK seas.
Melissa Moore says MCS is extremely concerned that, as a result of Government’s de-regulation agenda, a number of Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities (IFCAs) are considering voluntary management measures, rather than byelaws: “We are presently awaiting more detail on management measures for the first 27 sites, but voluntary management has consistently been proven not to work. However great the buy in, one or two fishermen, often fishers from outside the local area can ruin the efforts of the majority. Without legal redress the good work of many can be spoiled, often irrevocably, by a few. It is vital that these MCZs are not “paper parks”.
Once again, thank you Sea Champions! You alone collected over 7,000 pledges for a full network of MCZs, donated nearly 500 hours of your time inputting pledge data, wrote to your local newspapers, met with MPs, spread the word on social media and joined us on a freezing February morning to march on Westminster led by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.
See the list of 37 provisional sites to be considered.
|Beautiful jewel anenomes at "The Manacles" - a designated Marine Conservation Zone off the coast of Cornwall|