Last Updated: 13 June 2018
Created: 13 June 2018
North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson has welcomed plans to protect marine wildlife & clean up the oceans.
The Government has set out plans to create new 41 new Marine Conservation Zones to protect rare sea life and threatened marine habitats.
Marine Conservation Zones are just one type of the many Marine Protected Areas in place around the UK to conserve rare, threatened and nationally important habitats and species for future generations. Marine Protected Areas currently cover a total of 209,000 square km, and if approved, the new tranche will take the total figure to around 220, 000 square km – meaning two fifths of the UK coast would be protected.
No new activities deemed damaging – such as dredging, or significant coastal or offshore development – will be allowed to take place in these areas. Existing harmful activities will be minimised or stopped to allow important habitats to be restored over time. These Conservation Zones will also ensure that rare or threatened marine habitats and species will be protected - including the short snouted seahorse, stalked jellyfish and peacock’s tail seaweed.
The 41 new sites, which will be subject to a six-week consultation period, will reach right the way across England’s coastline – from the South West to Berwick on the Scottish border, with two sites in Northern Irish offshore waters.
Some 50 zones have already been designated around England as part of the UK’s ambitious Blue Belt programme. This includes the first tranche of 27 zones designated in 2013, followed by the second tranche of 23 sites in 2016.
This third and final tranche will be designated within 12 months of the consultation, which will last for a period of six weeks. It will cover approximately 11,700 square km, bringing the total area of protection to over 32,000 square km.
Justin Tomlinson MP said: “The plight of the world’s oceans is one of the most popular topics in my inbox, and I can understand why. The UK is surrounded by some of the richest and most diverse sea life in the world, and we must protect these precious habitats for future generations. I am very proud that the Government is a world leader in tackling some of the issues affecting the Oceans and is taking an ambitious approach to tackle them – one of the world’s strongest bans on beauty products containing microbeads, and a pledge to introduce a deposit return scheme for plastic bottles and cans, as well as banning plastic straws, drink stirrers and plastic stemmed cotton buds.”