Finding Sancturay meets

Finding Sanctuary, the Steering Group with responsibility for defining controversial marine conservation zones off the coast of South-west England, is to present initial findings at an all-day event in Exeter on 23 June.

Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) are a new type of Marine

Protected Area (MPA) being introduced through the UK Marine and Coastal

Access Act. 

MCZs will be implemented to protect nationally important

marine wildlife, habitats, geology and geomorphology.

Sites will be

selected both inshore and offshore, up to mean high water to protect the

full range of marine life.

On Wednesday, 23 June, Paul will take part in the Finding Sanctuary Recreational Workshop which is being held in Exeter. As well as acting as guest speaker, Paul will be on hand as initial findings of the Finding Sanctuary project are presented.

So far almost 150,000 West Country water users have had their views represented in the research which looks at how people use the region’s waters for commercial activity and leisure.

It is this information which will be used to ensure that all interests are taken into account when deciding where Marine Conservation Zones should be placed and what activities need to be restricted within those zones.

It is work that has a particular interest for Paul who as well as being a TV presenter is also the former base commander for the British Antarctic Survey, a veteran polar expedition leader, mountaineer and a professional diver/instructor.

According to Paul: “Now is the time for action and I believe that with projects like Finding Sanctuary we have an opportunity to make a difference by protecting specialist habitats and by adapting our behaviour in sensitive zones. There is an important balance to be struck between conservation and human activities – Finding Sanctuary is giving coastal communities a voice in these important decisions”.


As well as hearing from Paul, those who attend the event will also be able to meet the people who represent their interests on the Finding Sanctuary Steering Group.

The Group will create recommendations for the creation of Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs).

These recommendations will be submitted to Government in June 2011.

The Steering Group is a panel of individuals representing a wide range of marine interests from commercial fishermen to anglers, kayakers and sailors to divers and some of them will be speaking at the June event.

Although anyone who uses the region’s seas for recreation is welcome to attend the event, places are limited so booking is required. Anyone who would like to reserve a place should contact Sarah McLintock at Finding Sanctuary – sarah@finding-sanctuary.org 01392 878 340.

Comments from speakers:-

Annette Cole, South West Tourism,

David Mitchell, The Angling Trust, 

Caroline Price,Planning and Environmental Advisor, Royal Yachting Association:
“The 2009 Watersports and Leisure Participation report showed that 3.7million adults participate in watersports in the UK, and hundreds of thousands of those people follow their hobbies in the South West, from sailors and windsurfers, to powerboaters and personal watercraft users.

“We believe that boating generally has little conflict with the creation of MCZs but it is important that all watersports enthusiasts are aware of this process and engage in it so that we can achieve the best balance between a clean, healthy marine environment and people continuing to enjoy their hobbies as they always have. This is why the RYA is so committed to involvement in the Finding Sanctuary project.”

www.finding-sanctuary.org 

Finding Sanctuary is a partnership project between South West Food and Drink, the South West Wildlife Trusts, RSPB, National Trust, Natural England, JNCC and the County Councils of Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and Somerset.

Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) are a new type of Marine Protected Area (MPA) being introduced through the UK Marine and Coastal Access Act. MCZs will be implemented to protect nationally important marine wildlife, habitats, geology and geomorphology. Sites will be selected both inshore and offshore, up to mean high water to protect the full range of marine life. MCZs will have a range of protection levels that reflect the level to which a particular habitat or wider ecosystem needs to be safeguarded.

MCZs together with other types of MPA, will make up an ecologically coherent network of Marine Protected Areas. This means the MPA network will be a collection of areas that work together to provide more benefits than an individual area could on its own.

Finding Sanctuary is one of four regional projects which together make up the Marine Conservation Zone Project. The Marine Conservation Zone Project is being led by Natural England and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee to identify and recommend Marine Conservation Zones to Government. The four regional MCZ projects cover the south-west (Finding Sanctuary), Irish Sea (Irish Sea Conservation Zones), North Sea (Net Gain) and south-east (Balanced Seas). These regional MCZ projects will work with sea users and interest groups to identify MCZs and provide recommendations for sites within their regions to Government.