Timetable for marine protection overdue

Tuesday 16th July 2013

cpt Paul Naylorcpt Paul Naylor

As the Government today publishes responses to the Marine Conservation Zones’ consultation, The Wildlife Trusts urge Minister Richard Benyon to stand by his ambition to designate an ecologically coherent network and set out a clear timetable within which it can be achieved.

Our seas are in urgent need of protection.

Joan Edwards, The Wildlife Trusts’ Head of Living Seas, said:

“Whilst we are frustrated by the lack of progress in designation of Marine Conservation Zones, we are pleased with the action the Government is taking to protect our European Marine Sites from damaging fishing activity.  These sites should provide protection for some of our most important and vulnerable species and habitats and are vital areas within our wider Marine Protected Area network.  The Wildlife Trusts are working closely with local stakeholders and Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities to help progress this policy as effectively as possible.

The Wildlife Trusts welcome the announcement that the Marine Management Organisation will launch a consultation on the first draft marine plans for the Eastern Inshore and Offshore areas.

“Marine plans provide a clear opportunity to manage our seas in a sustainable manner and allow for recovery of our seas.  However, it must be ensured these plans are truly about sustainability, rather than just promoting economic development, if they are to achieve this aim.

Joan Edwards added: “Our seas are in urgent need of protection.  So, in addition to putting in a comprehensive response to the consultation, we provided additional evidence on a great number of the sites originally recommended by stakeholders.  Wildlife Trusts across the country have been gathering additional data, both last year and this, to strengthen the case.

“We have been clear in our response to the consultation that we want to see a Government commitment to rapid designation of the 31 sites recommended. Stakeholders invested time, energy and money in order to identify an ecologically coherent network which would not only provide our seas with the protection they need to recover and thrive, but which also took into account social and economic impacts of designation.  We want to see an ambitious timetable for designation of future sites that we, and the scientific community, agree our seas need.”

The Government released its consultation into the next stages of designation of Marine Conservation Zones in English and non-devolved waters in December 2012.  At this time, The Wildlife Trusts expressed disappointment with its recommendation that just 31 of the 127 sites recommended by stakeholders had enough evidence for designation.

You can read the consultation on proposals for designation in 2013 at
https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/marine-conservation-zones-consultation-on-proposals-for-designation-in-2013

Tagged with: Living Seas