Marine Conservation Zones

13th June 2018

Last Friday, on World Oceans Day, I was delighted to learn that the Government has set out plans to create 14 Marine Conservation Zones in and around the South West Coast to protect rare sea life and threatened marine habitats.

The South West coastline is one of the most beautiful in the United Kingdom and I’m delighted that this announcement will protect it for generations to come.

In these areas, no new activities deemed damaging – such as dredging, or significant coastal or offshore development – will be allowed to take place. Existing harmful activities will be minimised or stopped to allow important habitats to be restored over time.

It is to be commended that as a result of these measures, rare or threatened marine habitats and species including the short snouted seahorse, stalked jellyfish and peacock’s tail seaweed will be protected.

Nationally, the 41 new sites will reach right the way across England’s coastline – from the South West to Berwick on the Scottish border, with two sites in Northern Irish offshore waters.

Some 50 zones have already been designated around England as part of the UK’s ambitious Blue Belt programme. The new Zones build on the additional 27 designated in the 2010-2015 Parliament and over 500 other marine protected areas that already existed in the UK. 

This third and final tranche will be designated within 12 months of a consultation and will cover approximately 11,700 square km, bringing the total area of protection to over 32,000 square km.

The UK is surrounded by some of the richest and most diverse sea life in the world.

We must protect these precious habitats for future generations and I am pleased that we are implementing measures for cleaner air, greener spaces and stronger protections for animal welfare.

The creation of these safe havens for our cherished wildlife is putting the UK at the forefront of marine protection and I am committed not only to protecting but enhancing environmental standards as we prepare to leave the European Union.