The UK’s Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is now consulting on the third and final tranche of Marine Conservation Zones, which involves the designation of 41 new sites and the addition of further protection to 12 existing sites.
The consultation is also an opportunity to provide any relevant scientific or economic evidence that may not have previously been available, or to make general comments on the future of UK MPA development.
The UK is surrounded by some of the richest and most diverse sea life in the world. The sites proposed in this consultation protect a range of rare and threatened species and habitats found in UK seas, including: seahorses in seagrass meadows; blue mussel beds supporting sea snails and crabs; cold-water coral reefs with starfish, anemones and sponges; and deep water mud habitats with cockles and sea urchins.
Together with other types of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), these proposed sites will substantially complete the ecologically coherent network of MPAs around our shores, helping to deliver the UK Government and Administrations’ vision of clean, healthy, safe, productive and biologically diverse oceans and seas.
Defra have been working with the Devolved Administrations, the Joint Nature Conservation Committee and Natural England to take stock of the habitats and species protected in existing and planned MPAs and fill residual gaps within the network. The features protected in these proposed sites have been chosen to fill gaps in the current network, such as where a species or habitat is currently not protected in a region, or where only a very small proportion is protected.
The proposed network will cover approximately 11,700 km2, bringing the total area of protection to over 32,000 square km.
The closing date for the consultation is 20th July 2018.
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