The British Government’s scientific advisors have provided proposals on where a final set of Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) are needed around England – and eco-charities the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) and The Wildlife Trusts say they are excited about the plans, which they describe as a positive step forward towards restoring the country’s seas.
The sites proposed for protection by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee and Natural England would form the third and final round of MCZ designations around England.
In the previous two tranches only 50 protected sites were created in English waters, falling far short of the amount of protection scientists say is needed to safeguard our seas. However, the new plans involve another 50 sites.
Recommended for public consultation in 2017 are sites that include the south of the Isles of Scilly; Norris to Ryde with its seagrass meadows; the 35m Mud Hole off the North-west coast, which is home to rare sea pens; and Compass Rose off the Yorkshire coast.
The additional 50 sites “are essential to ensure we are protecting examples of all habitats,” said Melissa Moore of the MCS. “They will allow a proportion of our seas to begin to recover from over a century of damage and contribute to the restoration of biodiversity in our seas.
“We call on Government to include all these sites in their third tranche consultation next summer.”
Joan Edwards of The Wildlife Trusts said that if designated the sites would “help to establish a proper network of protected areas in our seas. This is a huge step towards ensuring that future generations will be able to rely on healthy and productive seas, rich in wildlife.”
The full list of sites recommended for designation contains: the Alde Ore, Axe, Camel, Dart, Devon Avon, Erme, Otter, Taw Torridge and Thames estuaries; E Meridian (E section); Hythe Bay; Ribble; Beachy Head E (Royal Sovereign Shoals); Bembridge; Cape Bank; Compass Rose; Goodwin Sands; Holderness Offshore; Inner Bank; Kentish Knock E; Markham’s Triangle; Morte Platform; Mud Hole; Norris to Ryde; NE Haig Fras; Offshore Foreland; Orford Inshore; Selsey Bill & the Hounds; Silver Pit; Slieve Na Griddle; Solway Firth; SW Deeps (E); S of Celtic Deep; S of Portland; S of the Isles of Scilly; South Rigg; Studland Bay; Wyre-Lune; Yarmouth to Cowes; Queenie Corner; E of Start Point MCZ Area of Search; S of Chesil Beach MCZ Area of Search; W of Copeland MCZ Area of Search; W of Lundy Area of Search; plus three inshore MCZ Areas of Search and more than 10 mobile-species MCZs.
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