The National Trust is joining with the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) at their march at Westminster on Monday (25th) in calling on the government to create a robust network of Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs).
The government – having previously denoted an ambition for the establishment of 127 MCZs (of which around a quarter adjoined or included National Trust coastal places) – appears to have changed tack and is now consulting on a much more modest list of 31 MCZs, of which nine touch or link to special coastal areas in our care.
The National Trust is strongly supportive of the need for the establishment of MCZs as they provide the important and much needed protection for habitats and species in the sea that are comparable to those we support on land.
We believe that the government:
· Should be more ambitious and commit to establishing a much larger suite of MCZs than the current consultation proposes.
· Needs to be more realistic about the evidence requirements to support the establishment of MCZs, having now set the bar unnecessarily high.
· Involve Stakeholders in reconsidering how to best establish a scientific baseline against which the conservation management of the wider MCZ network can be evaluated
· Should support high quality stakeholder involvement in the setting up and management of MCZs.
Simon Pryor, Natural Environment Director at the National Trust, said:
“The creation of the Marine Conservation Zones is a long-awaited opportunity to give marine species and habitats the same sort of protection that land based sites have enjoyed for decades”.“However we have major concerns that the Government, having worked through an exemplary stakeholder led process to identify these sites, is rowing back on the intention of the Marine and Coastal Access Act and is not giving the waters around the English coast the protection they need.
Phil Dyke, Coast and Marine Adviser for the National Trust said:
“We’re supporting the Marine Conservation Society rally on Monday 25 February as it will send the signal to the Government that people care about the need for proper protection for our marine environment. The Government needs to act now to create a network of Marine Conservation Zones to give our seas the protection that they deserve.”