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Joan Edwards

Joan Edwards is the Head of Living Seas at The Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts.

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Our network of marine protected areas moves another step closer

Posted: Friday 28th February 2014 by LivingSeas

Cuttlefish- Dan BoltCuttlefish- Dan Bolt

This week, Defra gave an update on Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs), covering the designated MCZs, and plans for the second tranche of MCZs. They announced a shortlist of 37 candidate MCZs for further consideration for designation in tranche two. A formal consultation on these sites is anticipated to take place at the start of next year. These 37 sites aim to fill large gaps in our existing network of marine protected areas, which includes the 27 sites designated at the end of last year. Defra now intend to work with statutory nature conservation bodies to verity and update the evidence base for these 37 sites and to engage with stakeholders at a local and national level to refine site specific information. A formal consultation on these sites is anticipated to take place a the start of next year with designation of the second tranche by the end of 2015.

We are buoyed by the Government’s commitment towards a second tranche of MCZs. As we said in November, although pleased with the designation of the first 27 sites, these did not complete the ecologically coherent network vital to ensuring a healthy future for our seas. These second tranche sites will take us a step closer to this network; although their designation will not result in a complete network so further sites will be needed in tranche three. And sites will also be needed for mobile species such as whales, dolphins, basking sharks and seabirds in order to create a network that is truly ecologically coherent.

A truly ecologically coherent network of sites will be one of the best tools to protect our marine wildlife effectively and restore our seas to their full potential following decades of neglect and decline. We need to ensure that as many of these sites as possible are designated and managed appropriately to create the most effective network possible. You can show your support for these sites too at wildlifetrusts.org/mczfriends.

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