Posted: Tuesday 8th November 2011 by Joan
Corkwing Wrasse by Robert Bailey
Marine Conservation Zones hang in the balance
It’s make or break time for the UK’s marine life. Looking back over my career I’ve never experienced a time of greater concern for the future of our seas.
After years of pressure from The Wildlife Trusts and a huge amount of public support, the Marine and Coastal Access Act of 2009 promised us an ecologically coherent network of Marine Protected Areas around the coast by 2012.
So are we any closer to achieving this?
We all knew that implementing the Act was going to be a difficult task and therefore The Wildlife Trusts enthusiastically engaged at every level with the four regional stakeholder projects set up around England - Net Gain, Balanced Seas, Finding Sanctuary and the Irish Sea Conservation Zone project.
What’s unique about this process is that it is society that has decided on the size, number and distribution of these Marine Conservation Zones. This September, after two years of consultation the regional stakeholder projects recommended a network of 127 Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) in English and Welsh offshore waters. The process has cost the Government £8.8 million to date. One million stakeholders / marine users have made full use of their opportunity to engage and contribute to the process at great personal cost resulting in a network which has a great deal of consensus.
But while we have been celebrating the completion of the regional network projects, darker forces have been at work. It is our understanding that perhaps only 30 - 40 sites will be designated next year.
2012 provides this Government with the opportunity to make real progress with protecting our seas and restoring them to health. And we have to remember that healthy seas are good for wildlife, good for fisherman and good for those of us who visit the seaside and essential if we are going to tackle climate change.
We need to ensure that the government gets a clear message that this is what Society wants. That’s where you can help. We need to demonstrate the importance and urgency of the network to the Parliament Under-Secretary for Natural Environment and Fisheries, Richard Benyon MP, and ensure that Defra does not reduce the number of Marine Conservation Zones going forward for consultation in 2012. We would be very grateful if you could email or write to the Minister highlighting your concerns using our suggested letter below. You can also sign our Petition Fish campaign and join our Save our Seas online community. Keep up-to-date with our campaign using my blog or Bernard the Gurnard's social media sites.
Head of Living Seas Joan Edwards
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|MCZ letter to Defra Minister Richard Benyon.doc||31 KB|