New Marine Conservation Zones
On 31st May 2019, the UK designated an additional 41 new Marine Conservation Zones, taking the total to 91. Originally the Marine Act of 2009 introduced the concept of protected marine areas in UK coastal and offshore waters. Then the government created the previous Marine Conservation Zones in 2013 and 2016. The newly protected area covers an additional 12,000 square kilometres. In fact, these Marine Conservation Zones apply to England and Northern Ireland offshore waters. Separate designations apply in the rest of the UK. For instance, Scotland has a total of 31 Marine Protected Areas, while in Wales 35% of territorial waters are protected, mainly as European Marine Sites. Northern Ireland passed its own Marine Act in 2013 and now has a total of 6 Marine Conservation Zones.
Did you know that seahorses, corals and basking sharks (the world’s second largest fish) occur in British waters? In fact, these are all part of the very rich and diverse marine life that occurs around the UK coastline.
More information on the newly protected areas
As the government website explains, Marine Conservation Zones are intended to protect the diverse species and habitats around the English Coast. On the website of the JNCC, which advises the UK government on conservation issues, there is a special mapper covering all of the UK’s marine protected areas.
The new Marine Conservation Zones include the Purbeck Coast in Dorset, Selsey Bill in Sussex, and the Camel and Otter Estuaries. Another newly protected area is the south shore of the Solway Firth. Also included is a long section of the Northumberland coast running from Berwick south to Whitley Bay.
The designation of these areas follows an intensive campaign by the Wildlife Trusts called Wave of Support. The network of Marine Conservation Areas in the UK now sets a framework for conserving the very diverse marine habitats of the British Isles. This is backed up by a wider network of UK marine areas afforded protection on a European level. However, the challenge now is to introduce practical measures to protect these seas and their marine life in a sustainable way.
We have created a new gallery showcasing some of areas protected and their wildlife. And below is a taster of some of the images in the expanded gallery.