Back in 2004, it was proposed that 30% of the UK’s waters should become reserves in which no fishing or any other kind of extraction happened. Five years later, a petition for this policy was submitted to government with 500,000 signatures. However, today only 0.01% of the UK’s waters are protected. That’s the total area of British waters – a grand total of 5 km2 – in which no industrial fishing is permitted.
All this was supposed to change after the government launched an intensive stakeholder-led consultation in 2010, to choose which sites should be designated as Marine Conservation Zones (MCZ) in the UK. After a lengthy 18 month process of negotiations, a network of 127 MCZ sites were selected for England (there are separate consultations for Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland), encompassing a broad spectrum of marine ecosystems including mussel and seagrass beds, cold-water reefs and saltmarshes . These MCZs would protect our oceans and ensure a healthy and productive marine environment by controlling the activities that damage our seas.
Regrettably, the UK government is choosing to ignore the recommendations of the independent scientific panel, and reduce the number of MCZs designated in 2013 to just 31, with no further date for when the remaining 96 will be considered. Many of the remaining sites are considered extremely high priority Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) habitats, and are under threat from destructive activities.
This is why on Monday 25th February, we will be meeting outside the London Aquarium at 11am and marching to parliament to show the government how much support there is for more marine protection in England. We want as many people as possible to join us for this rally – and feel free to dress up in the fishiest fashion you can find: mermaids, scuba divers, sharks, fishermen! The whole event will be filmed for the last episode of Fish Fight which will be broadcast on Channel 4 just three days later.
Let’s take the ‘fish’ fight to Westminster and help to save our seas.
For more information:
- Take part in the public consultation and send an email to DEFRA showing your support for the cause (deadline 31st March): www.mcsuk.org/mpa/england/consultation
- More detailed information about the event: www.mcsuk.org/mpa/march
- Watch this video by the MCS on why the 127 MCZs are so important: http://www.youtube.com/user/YourSeasYourVoice?feature=mhee
- A comment piece by George Monbiot on this topic: www.monbiot.com/2013/02/11/ship-wrecked
- The official DEFRA MCZ consultation page: www.defra.gov.uk/consult/2012/12/13/marine-conservation-zones-1212
Notes for Editors
Blue Ventures is an award-winning marine conservation organisation dedicated to working with local communities to conserve threatened marine environments. Our highly acclaimed conservation programmes work with some of the world’s poorest coastal communities to develop conservation and alternative income initiatives to protect biodiversity and coastal livelihoods. The results of our work help us to propose new ideas to benefit coastal communities everywhere.