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

 

A A A

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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
videoJapanese prepare for the afterlife by testing out coffins
Arts and Entertainment
Harrison Ford attends Blade Runner at Target Presents AFI's Night at the Movies at ArcLight Cinemas on 24 April, 2013 in Hollywood, California
film... but Ridley Scott won't direct
Sport
Hughes is hit by a bouncer from Sean Abbott
cricketStephen Brenkley on batsman's tragic flaw that led to critical injury
Sport
Dejected England players applaud the fans following their team's 3-0 defeat
football

Extras
indybest
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Property Manager

£25000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This independent, growing Sales...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Multi-skilled graphic designer ...

Austen Lloyd: Court of Protection Solicitor

£30000 - £50000 per annum + EXCELLENT: Austen Lloyd: Court of Protection Solic...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Supervisor / Housewares / Furniture

£17000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital