41 New UK Marine Conservation Zones welcomed by MCS
The Marine Conservation Society (MCS), has warned that proper investment and management of the 41 newly created UK Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) is required if they are to benefit both people and wildlife.
A 2018 campaign by the MCS saw 21,000 people take part in a public consultation urging Environment Secretary Michael Gove to approve the designation of 41 new sites as MCZs.
The new MCZs include inshore and offshore areas around the coast, and will protect a range of marine wildlife including worms, starfish, sea firs, sea urchins, spiny lobster, molluscs, fan mussels, tentacled lagoon worm, short-snouted seahorse and native oyster. A wide variety of habitats will also be protected including sand, tidal mud, rocky reefs and gravel.
'This is great news for marine wildlife and we are delighted that the government has approved the protection of these special marine areas,' said Dr Jean-Luc Solandt, MCS Principal Specialist, MPAs. 'The UK has a growing network of more than 300 marine protected areas, but the government must now invest in the proper management of these sites and keep them free of all activities that damage the seabed so that our spectacular marine wildlife can recover from decades of destruction and degradation.'
Evidence about the importance of the many of these new MCZs was gathered by divers from Seasearch, the volunteer dive programme coordinated by MCS, and was presented to Defra to inform their decisions. Dr Charlotte Bolton, National Seasearch coordinator said: 'Our divers have spent hours and hours diving England’s incredibly diverse seabed habitats to record the marine plants and animals that inhabit our inshore seas. Through this meticulous citizen science, we have been able to make the case for the protection of many of these new sites, and we look forward to helping local authorities develop robust management and monitoring plans for these MCZs so that the amazing marine life they protect really can recover.'