Launching on October 3rd, a four-week ‘call for evidence’ asks for comment from communities, industries and stakeholders regarding the implementation of stronger measures to protect marine life from damage by human activity.
The Highly Protected Marine Areas would be the toughest form of marine protection in the UK and would expand upon the 220,000 km² of areas already protected around the UK. Known as the ‘Blue Belt’, views are also being sought regarding which areas would benefit most from additional protection.
“We want to make sure we are doing our utmost to protect our ocean and this call for evidence will help us evaluate whether, and where, we can go further to safeguard marine life, while balancing the needs of fishing, marine industries, conservation and local communities,” said review chair Richard Benyon MP.
This action comes into play as part of the six-month review to look at what further protections might be needed to drive progress in the UK, which is currently underway and being assessed by an independent panel. The public’s feedback regarding Highly Protected Marina Areas will help to inform the panel, who will take into consideration the economic and social impacts on all those who use the sea. The review was announced in June 2019 and followed the successful designation of 91 Marine Conservation Zones in England between 2013 and 2019.
Benyon added: “The views of those who use the seas will be at the heart of the review and we want to hear particularly from those with expertise on the aims, opportunities and challenges of introducing Highly Protected Marine Areas.”
The review will conclude in early 2020, after which the panel will make an official recommendation to the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA).
Photographs courtesy of Jamie Campbell and Sheng Li.
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