New wave of protection for the sea announced today

Credit: Alexander Musatrd2020VISION

The Wildlife Trusts call for effective management of 41 new Marine Conservation Zones.

Today The Wildlife Trusts welcome the news that the Government is
designating a third phase of 41 new Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs). This
historic move will help protect the seas around our shores and follows on
from previous announcements of 50 MCZs (in 2013 and 2016). It is the third
of three phases promised by the Government in order to fulfil the remit of the
Marine and Coastal Access Act.

The 41 new MCZs are special places and include cold water corals, forests of
sea fans, rocky canyons and sandbanks – an astonishingly varied range of
submerged landscapes which support the stunning diversity of marine life
found in the UK. They include Bembridge MCZ which is very unusual because
it is home to both species of native seahorse, Solway Firth MCZ whose sand
banks are resting places for seals, and Holderness Offshore MCZ which is
important for its crabs and lobsters. All will contribute towards a network of
areas which is urgently needed to ensure a healthy future for our seas. 

Joan Edwards, Director of Living Seas at The Wildlife Trusts, says:
“It’s fantastic news that now we have 91 Marine Conservation Zones – they
will form a vital series of underwater habitats which can be nursed back to
health. The Wildlife Trusts have been calling for the government to give real
protection to a network of diverse sea-bed landscapes since 2009 and over
22,000 people joined our call for better protection of our seas during last
summer’s consultation.  Huge thanks to everyone who has supported this
change! Now we need to see good management of these special places to
stop damaging activities such as beam-trawling or dredging for scallops and
langoustines which harm fragile marine wildlife.”

After the first 50 MCZs were designated, The Wildlife Trusts launched a Wave
of Support campaign to coincide with the public consultation on the third
phase. Over 22,000 people joined our call for better protection of our seas in
just six weeks in the summer of 2018. The Wildlife Trusts believe that the new
total of 91 MCZs* are a great step forward – but now the focus must be on
caring for these special places effectively so that our ocean wildlife has the
best possible chance of recovery.

The 91 Marine Conservation Zones can be viewed here