Protect our seas, charities tell Minister for Natural Environment and Fisheries



Leading conservation and animal rights charities have urged Fisheries Minister Fisheries Richard Benyon to stand by his promise to establish a network of ‘Marine Protected Zones’ – areas of ocean where human activity is restricted – and set out a clear timetable within which it can be achieved. 

The Marine Conservation Society, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), The Wildlife Trusts, and the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) have questioned the Government’s commitment to moving forward on the issue and are calling for urgent action. The charities claim that an ‘ecologically coherent’ network of Marine Protected Zones would offer protection to rare and vulnerable species as well as all marine life within their boundaries, and will also influence other areas as burgeoning populations spill out into the surrounding sea.

The fresh pressure to establish the protection zones comes on the eve of The Wildlife Trusts’ National Marine Week, which showcases the UK’s varied marine wildlife. Joan Edwards, The Wildlife Trusts’ Head of Living Seas, said they are “frustrated” by the lack of progress, claiming: “Our seas are in urgent need of protection. Wildlife Trusts across the country have been gathering additional data, both last year and this, to strengthen the case. We want to see an ambitious timetable for designation of future sites that we, and the scientific community, agree our seas need.

“Marine plans provide a clear opportunity to manage our seas in a sustainable manner and allow for recovery of our seas.   However, it must be ensured these plans are truly about sustainability, rather than just promoting economic development, if they are to achieve this aim.”

A petition signed by 350,000 people was presented to Downing Street in June calling for the establishment of Marine Protected Zones. Many of the signatures were put forward in creative ways such as through sand sculptures, willow carvings and silver-scaled marine creatures. 

A recent report by the Government’s Science and Technology Select Committee supported the call for the creation of Marine Conservation Zones and recommended that the Government set out a clear timetable for their establishment with a clear commitment to an end date.

The Committee’s Chair Andrew Miller MP said that although the Department for Environment has expressed a desire to move the Marine Conservation Zone process forward, this intention has not been translated into action. Mr Miller warned that “The Minister should not let his priorities be set by fear of judicial review. Further delay to the process perpetuates the uncertainty that has already been damaging to the Marine Conservation Zone project.”

In May a State of Nature report compiled by scientists and 25 wildlife organisations revealed that 60% of terrestrial and marine animal and plant species have declined in the past 50 years, with seabirds, harbour seals, sharks, skates and rays worst affected.

A Government consultation into the designation of Marine Conservation Zones released in December 2012 was criticised by campaigners for approving only 31 of the 127 sites recommended for protection by a two and a half year public consultation. Iconic sites such as Flamborough, Studland, and the chalk reef at Cromer were missing from the list of proposed Conservation Zones.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has said that it is still making final decisions on the process but aims to finalise its designated sites and propose a timeframe for action in autumn 2013.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
love + sex
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle 0 Man United 1: Last minute strike seals precious victory
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Seth Rogan is one of America’s most famous pot smokers
filmAmy Pascal resigned after her personal emails were leaked following a cyber-attack sparked by the actor's film The Interview
Benjamin Netanyahu and his cartoon bomb – the Israeli PM shows his ‘evidence’
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
Life and Style
A statue of the Flemish geographer Gerard Kremer, Geradus Mercator (1512 - 1594) which was unveiled at the Geographical Congree at Anvers. He was the first person to use the word atlas to describe a book of maps.
techThe 16th century cartographer created the atlas
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: UI / UX Designer

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This firm are focussed on assis...

Recruitment Genius: General Processor

£7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A vacancy has arisen for a General Processor ...

Recruitment Genius: Outbound Sales Executive - B2B

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A great opportunity has arisen ...

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Associate

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time and Part time positio...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot