Marine Conservation Zones
Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) are a new type of Marine Protected Area designation, arising from the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009.
Following a consultation into the designation of MCZs in English and non devolved waters, the Government recently announced the designation of the first 27 MCZs. Recommendations for a network of 127 MCZs in all English seas and offshore Welsh waters were published by Defra in September 2011. These areas had been recommended through a stakeholder led process which included representatives from all marine sectors - from fishermen and the aggregates industry to divers and boat-users. The process enabled everyone to have their say over where MCZs should be located and was based on the best available evidence.
The Wildlife Trusts keenly contributed to this process and it is our view that these Marine Conservation Zones, when combined in a network with European Marine Sites and protected sites from the other devolved countries, would provide effective and meaningful protection for our marine environment.
We were therefore disappointed when the Government announced plans to take a phased approach to these areas. In the consultation released in December, they consulted the public on the potential designation of only 31 of the 127 on the stakeholders’ list in 2013. Although they stated that other zones may be created in the future, no definitive timetable was released for this.
The Government have recently released the results of this consultation, designating 27 of the 31 put forward in the consultation. The map above these 27 sites, the first tranche of Marine Conservation Zones.
We submitted a comprehensive response to the consultation, submitting additional evidence for those sites that the Government felt were lacking data and calling for rapid designation of the first tranche of sites and an ambitious timetable for designation of future tranches. We were pleased to see the commitment to two further tranches of MCZs and a timetable for their delivery.
Now is the most important time for UK marine conservation. We have never before, and may never again have such an opportunity to safeguard the remnants of our, once rich, marine habitats and wildlife. Why not stay in touch with the campaign and find out how you can help in the future by becoming a Friend of the MCZs?
Our marine environment desperately needs help - we need a proper network of protected areas to ensure that the extraordinary diversity of species and habitats in our seas get real protection for the first time. There is huge public support for this protection. Our Petition Fish campaign, calling for greater marine protection across the UK, gathered nearly 250,000 signatures. It was presented to the Government at the end of January 2012.
Find out more about the wonderful underwater landscapes that a million stakeholders recommended for protection and why we think all 127 of these places are important by taking a look at our MCZ map and signing up to a zone near you!
Experience from across the world has shown that Marine Protected Areas provide economic and social benefits that far outweigh the costs of designation and management.
We are concerned that Defra’s own impact assessment for the Marine Conservation Zones failed to provide any monetary benefits for the designation of individual sites or for the network as a whole. An analysis of the initial Impact Assessment was carried out by Hull University and can be viewed below
To showcase the potential benefits from the proposed network of Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) in English and offshore Welsh waters, The Wildlife Trusts commissioned a report from The Centre for Marine and Coastal Policy Research at Plymouth University.
The report analysed the provision of ecosystem services and processes across the entire recommended MCZ network of 127 sites and carried out more detailed analysis of four recommended MCZs (North of Celtic Deep, Holderness Inshore, Kingmere and Torbay). You can see the full report below and if you head to each of the four rMCZ webpages, you can see the more detailed case studies there.
|Securing the benefits of MCZs.pdf||2.39 MB|
|Summary of MCZ Impact Assessment Material Review- Hull University.pdf||173.94 KB|