MCZ recommendations omit anchoring – for now

Final recommendations for Marine Conservation Zones and Reference Areas were submitted to government, in the form of its advisors Natural England and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC), today.

Two years after the four English regional project teams began the task of researching the mass of information and conflicting evidence, 127 sites have been proposed as new marine nature reserves.

If all proposals submitted are ultimately approved, more than 25% of waters around England and Wales would receive some form of protection – up from less than 1% at present.

But how these should be managed – and, most importantly to boat owners, whether anchoring will be banned in certain areas – is not yet up for decision.

Much work has, however, already been done by the project teams on potential management measures and Natural England and the JNCC will develop these as they work through the assessment process.

The project teams have been made up of representatives from all interest groups, from conservationists to industry, including fishing, locals, the MOD, and the RYA and boat owners themselves. A consensus is sought that will achieve a balance between protecting marine habitat and human activity.

Natural England and the JNCC will submit their own combined report to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) towards the end of the year. A final list of sites will then be put up for formal Public Consultation next spring. Formal designation of the sites is due by the end of 2012.

The regional project teams’ reports can be read on the following websites:
Finding Sanctuary
(South West)
Balanced Seas
(South East)
Net Gain
(North East)       
Irish Sea Conservation Zones
(Irish Sea)

Map: recommended Marine Conservation Zones and Reference Areas

Meanwhile, the stretch of Dorset coastline running from Studland to Portland is under specific scrutiny, as its own Public Consultation on a proposed European marine Special Area of Conservation opened on 1 Sept. Interested parties have until 24 November to register their views,
details on Natural England‘s website.