The seas around the English coast contain many diverse habitats that support a range of marine life, but the impact of human industry has steadily been encroaching. With waters over-fished and plastics found throughout, to ensure these habitats continue to exist in years to come, they need to be protected. The UK government have recently proposed that 41 new areas become Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs). To ensure that each of these areas gain this protection, The Wildlife Trusts have launched an e-action campaign calling for the public to show their support.
The Wildlife Trusts’ #WaveOfSupport campaign aims to gives everyone the opportunity to back the 41 new MCZs that have been proposed for around the English coast. These range from the seagrass meadows in Dorset’s Studland Bay, to the mud habitats to be found in the Irish Sea, and will help to protect some of the most vulnerable marine creatures to be found in English waters.
The proposals are currently in the consultation phase, which means that the government have called for the public to offer their opinions on the creation of the new group of MCZs. Unless public support is received, the places may not be granted the designation – or the protection – that the status entails.
The consultation period runs until Friday 20th July. Make your opinion known by then in order to help protect our seas and all of the incredible wildlife within it.
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.
Joan Edwards, Director of Living Seas at The Wildlife Trust.
There are currently 50 MCZs in English waters. To add 41 more will go a long way towards helping the sea-beds to recover from the damage inflicted on them over the past century.
The purpose of MCZs is to protect areas that are important for conserving the diversity of underwater habitats and species. The areas chosen for the new designations will contribute to an ecologically coherent network throughout English waters that will allow creatures such as sea horses, black bream, native oysters, and living reefs to thrive. The status of MCZ will protect the wildlife within the areas from damaging activities such as high impact scallop dredging and bottom trawling, though low impact activities, such as potting will still be permitted in most sites. Through proper management and policing of the sites, the habitats can be returned to their former states.
The 41 proposed sites lie all around the English coast. 17 can be found in the Eastern Channel, that stretches from the mid-Kent coastline to just south of the Dart Estuary in Devon. These include the Goodwin Sands sandbanks, a site of diverse marine wildlife. Both common and grey seals can be seen on the banks, whilst the beds of blue mussels and the rossworm reefs draw in numerous other creatures in search of food and shelter. Thornback rays lay their ‘mermaid purse’ eggs on the sandbanks, and commercially important species such as cod, plaice and sandeels use the site as a nursery. Other proposed sites in the Eastern Channel are the Dart estuary, an area important for its seahorse populations, and the Purbeck Coast, with its critical black sea bream nesting ground. A further 5 sites can be found in the Southern North Sea, 12 in the Western Channel, six in the Irish sea, and 1 in the Northern North Sea. All of the sites provide a vital role in conserving the diversity of the English seas.
In order to join the #WaveofSupport all you have to do is visit the action page on The Wildlife Trusts’ website. There you’ll find an editable outline of a letter addressed to the UK’s Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Michael Gove, in which you can back the proposed MCZs. Simply enter a few bits of information, and The Wildlife Trust will do the rest. Don’t forget to share the #WaveofSupport on social media to spread the word. The more people who contact the government in support of the newly proposed MCZ’s, the more likely it is that all of the sites will be approved.
It’s time to show how much you care about the marine wildlife to be found around the English coast.
I’ve joined the #WaveofSupport. Will you?