The new network of Marine Conservation Zones in our waters will protect England’s marine species and habitats, from the common to the rare and threatened. Four regional projects have started working with local groups and businesses to identify further areas that will be designated as Marine Conservation Zones.
Minister for the Marine Environment, Huw Irranca-Davies said: “With the new Marine Conservation Zone around Lundy Island we have taken the first step in creating a network of marine protected areas. We can’t always see what is happening to the wildlife and habitats under our seas, but they need just the same protection as those on land and this world-first in legislation will provide that.”
“The four MCZ projects around England’s coastline are working with local interest groups to identify what other areas should be given this protection and I encourage all those that use the sea for work or recreation to get involved with their local project team.”
Lundy Island is just over three miles long and half a mile wide and the surrounding waters are home to varied wildlife including a high population of seals, lobsters and a number of different species of coral. The waters around Lundy were a marine nature reserve, until their change of status to an MCZ. Specific conservation objectives for the island will now be developed which will be open for consultation. Local byelaws will remain in place to protect the island’s wildlife.
The Act also includes new systems for managing and protecting our coastal and marine waters through:
- the establishment of a new Marine Management Organisation which will be a centre of marine expertise;
- a new marine planning system which will enable a more strategic approach to be taken to the use of our seas;
- a simpler more streamlined marine licensing system;
- reform of inshore fisheries management; and
- better management for migratory and freshwater fisheries.
- Marine Conservation Zones can be created under the Marine and Coastal Access Act which comes into being on January 12, 2010 after receiving Royal Assent on 12 November 2009.
- The designation of Lundy as a Marine Conservation Zone is a requirement of the Marine and Coastal Access Act.
- The Marine Conservation Zones will protect species and habitats of national importance, and the Bill will allow local laws to be put in place to protect the zones from human activity which may cause damage.
- Natural England and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee are the bodies responsible for advising ministers on the delivery of Marine Conservation Zones.
- The Act will also enable the creation of a continuous coastal path for better access to our coastline. Natural England is the body responsible for delivering this project, with the first section to be completed in Weymouth in time for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
- Further information on the Marine and Coastal Access Act can be found on our marine legislation pages.