Marine conservation zones, or MCZs, are the hottest topic in English marine conservation.
Last August, 127 MCZs were recommended to the UK Government by stakeholders of the marine environment in English and offshore Welsh waters. We now have a fight on our hands to see these zones come into fruition, and we need your help!
19 of the recommended MCZs are in the Irish Sea, so let’s fight for them!
In 2009 the Marine and Coastal Access Act made it possible to designate a new type of protected area around our shores, Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs). Since then thousands of people have been involved in recommending where these zones should go. In north-west England the process was led by the Irish Sea Conservation Zone project and the North West Wildlife Trusts, along with representatives of the fishing industry, aggregates, ports and harbours, anglers, sailors and other stakeholders have all been discussing the best local areas for protection.
In September 2011 the final recommendations were made. Around the country 127 recommended MCZs were outlined and over a million people were involved in this consensus-led process, which took over two years and cost £8.8 million. The 127 recommended sites include 19 in the Irish Sea. If designated, these 19 MCZs will mean that almost 25% of the Irish Sea is protected from the most damaging activities. However, that is currently a rather ‘big if’.
The Government’s advisors on such matters, Natural England and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee, considered the stakeholder recommendations and released their advice on the network of 127 MCZs in July 2012. You can read their advice here.
Presently, Defra are accepting public views on the recommended network via the public consultation on MCZs, which will be open until 31 March 2013. This is a crucial time in the conservation of our seas, a time when you can have your say about the future of your sea.
To find out where the 19 proposed MCZs are in the Irish Sea take a look at the map below. To find out more about each site, visit the Wildlife Trusts’ MCZ pages. Here you can also become a Friend of a marine conservation zone, lending your support to the protection of our unique marine habitats and species and staying tuned the progress of the process!
Looking for more information on marine conservation zones? Try our list of FAQs.