George Eustice, the fisheries minister, recently boasted about the new protection Britain’s fragile coastal ecosystems were getting in the form of 27 new Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs).
There wasn’t actually that much to brag about. Scientists had recommended the creation of 127 such areas. The 100 missing MCZs leave populations of spiny seahorses and other wildlife in danger of being obliterated.
Furthermore, the MCZs that have been declared provide only limited protection to their wildlife, and not a single one is completely closed to fishing.
Of course, this could be “just the start” as Eustice says; although it’s far from a big step, it could be one in the right direction. The watering down of much-needed protection in this manner, however, doesn’t look promising.
Our natural heritage is far too important for ministers to faff around with cheery words and token efforts. Marine ecosystems need solid protection and quickly.
Tell the UK government to take marine conservation seriously.
We the undersigned hope that the recent creation of 27 Marine Conservation Zones will be swiftly followed by the creation of the 100 more that scientists actually recommended to provide an “ecologically coherent system”. We also ask that you arrange adequate monitoring of the areas to ensure that they really do provide sufficient protection; something which will also require stricter guidelines for most, if not all, of them as to which activities are and are not permitted.
Coastal ecosystems are incredibly important, supporting a great diversity of life, not to mention the fishing industry itself. Conservationists are understandably disappointed at the weakness of the new measures, but this could be a move in the right direction. Further action, however, is needed quickly, not put on the back burner to appease vested interests.
Please ensure that much stronger action is taken to protect our oceans and coasts.
Thank you for your attention.