Proposals to Protect our Seas are Vital

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24 January 2013
Proposals to protect our seas are vital and have widespread public support says Bristol MP Kerry McCarthy.

Backing The Wildlife Trust’s ‘Petition Fish’ campaign, Kerry McCarthy, has expressed support for proposals for a network of Marine Conservation Zones in English and offshore Welsh waters. At the moment only one Marine Conservation Zone and ‘No Take Zone’ has been designated, around Lundy Island in the Bristol channel - http://www.lundymcz.org.uk/

The Wildlife Trusts' ‘Petition Fish’ campaign – which is backed by Avon Wildlife Trust - has secured almost 250,000 signatures in support of marine protection. The goal is to secure an ‘ecologically coherent’ network of Marine Protected Areas around the UK. This would allow our seas to recover from past damage and sustain current pressures.

Over the past year, Kerry McCarthy has urged Government Ministers to support the creations of Marine Conservation Zones both here in the UK and around the world. Kerry is very concerned about the damage being done by over-fishing. Back in July, Kerry led a debate in Parliament on this issue and she raised with the Minister the growing concerns at the time that the Government was preparing the ground for designating between just 27 to 40 sites out of the 127 sites that had originally been agreed.

It was later revealed, in December last year, that the Government will only be introducing 31 sites in the first tranche. Holding the Government to account for its half hearted approach, Kerry put further pressure on the Government by asking Ministers in Parliament how the Government could continue to say it remained committed to an ecologically coherent network of Marine Protected Areas, when the nature conservation bodies and the independent Science Advisory Panel have both said that the Government can only achieve this through the designation of all 127 sites.

Continuing her fight for a network of Marine Conservation Zones, in Parliament this week, Kerry McCarthy said: “I will continue to put pressure on the Government to implement the recommended Marine Conservation Zone network. Our seas are under great pressure; marine scientists have said that the world’s oceans and seas are facing an unprecedented loss of species, comparable to the great mass extinctions of prehistory.

“Today, I have written to Defra Minister Richard Benyon to urge him to set a timetable for the designation of all the recommended sites and I encourage everyone to have their say on this consultation and to show their support for The Wildlife Trusts' campaign by logging onto their website."

Joan Edwards, Head of Living Seas for The Wildlife Trusts, said; "The recommended network of Marine Conservation Zones was chosen following an extensive process involving sea users from fishermen and the aggregates industry to divers and boat-users. The proposals represent a significant step forward towards an ecologically coherent network of Marine Protected Areas."

"Disappointingly the Government's consultation only proposes taking forward 31 of the 127 recommended MCZs this year. We want to see a clear process set out that ensures the initial 31 sites are protected as soon as possible, sets a timetable for the designation of the rest of the sites and makes sure vulnerable habitats are not damaged before the MCZs are designated."

The consultation runs until 31st March. People can respond through The Wildlife Trusts' website wildlifetrusts.org/haveyoursay




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