New Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) will soon be created in English seas to protect coral reefs and other marine life. Yesterday Auntie Beeb told us that there are to be 27 new MCZs. ‘Announcing the 27 new zones, marine environment minister George Eustice said the [Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)] was doing “more than ever” to protect England’s marine environment and almost a quarter of English inshore waters and 9% of UK waters would be “better protected”.’
I’m grateful to my fellow blogger Sandy Steinman at Natural History Wanderings for drawing attention to this.
You can see where the new MCZs are to be on this interactive map from DEFRA’s Joint Nature Conservation Committee.
New MCZs are good news, of course. Good enough? Not everybody thinks so. Auntie Beeb says, ‘Last December a two-year £8m consultation involving the government’s own science advisers recommended the creation of 127 MCZs to halt the rapid decline of fish, lobsters, oysters and seahorses. But earlier this year, ministers announced plans to construct just 31 zones aimed at protecting life on the ocean floor.’ And now we’re to get just 27 MCZs.
Over 127 MCZs were proposed. Why not designate all, or nearly all of those? DEFRA says that ‘there were gaps in the evidence used to support the recommendations.’ From 127 sites to 27 sites? That’s a lot of ‘gaps’!
Here’s DEFRA’s press release about MCZs. Mr Eustice ‘has also announced plans to designate two more phases of MCZs over the next three years to complete our contribution to a network of marine protected areas. A consultation on the next phase is expected to be launched in early 2015… [He says,] “MCZs are only one piece of the jigsaw. Over 500 marine protected areas already exist around the UK. Together with MCZs these sites will help safeguard our rich marine environment and keep our seas sustainable, healthy and productive for future generations.”’
I don’t yet know much about Mr Eustice. Is he any good? What will he do next to conserve our seas?