Battle to protect wildlife at sea receives boost today

Today the government has launched a consultation asking the public for their views about protecting a new group of Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) - areas at sea where wildlife is protected from damaging activities.
Tompot blenny - Paul Naylor

Tompot blenny. Image by: Paul Naylor.

Forty-one species places have been chosen for the public to comment on covering approximately 11,700 km2, bringing the total area of protection to over 32,000 square km.

The sites proposed in the consultation protect a range of rare and threatened species and habitats found in our seas, including seahorses in seagrass meadows; blue mussel beds supporting sea snails and crabs; cold-water coral reefs with starfish, anemones and sponges; and deep-water mud habitats with cockles and sea urchins.

Joan Edwards, Director of Living Seas at The Wildlife Trusts said: “We’ve been calling for the government to give real protection to a connected network of diverse sea-bed habitats since 2009. Only 50 have been designated so far and this new consultation on 41 special places is good news.

We need to restore the sea-bed that has been ravaged over the past century and allow fragile marine life to recover - and this can only be done with good management. Without these astonishing submerged landscapes there simply wouldn't be any fish, let alone fantastic jewel anemones, seahorses, and all the other wild and extraordinary creatures which are part of a healthy marine ecosystem.”

Northumberland Wildlife Trust believes that the consultation is a big step in the right direction for England’s seas. Proper protection of these sites after designation will mean that our seas will be given the opportunity to recover. However, there is disappointment that any areas in the North Sea are missing from the consultation.

Mike Pratt, Northumberland Wildlife Trust Chief Executive added: “Forty-one potential new protected areas represent a great leap forward but we are disappointed that a number of sites have been left out of this process, particularly mud habitats in the Irish Sea and English Channel and sites in the North Sea. I hope they will receive protection in the not too distant future."

The closing date for the consultation is 20th July 2018. Click here and air your opinions.