Conservation

UK government confirms Highly Protected Marine Areas review panel

written by Oceanographic Staff

An advisory panel of seven people will examine how and if HPMAs should be introduced in the UK.

The Highly Protected Marina Areas (HPMA) review was announced in June by Michael Gove, the UK Environmental Secretary. Led by Newbury MP Richard Benyon, the panel will spend the next six months evaluating whether HPMAs could and should be implemented in areas around the British Isles. HPMAs ban any human activity with the potential to cause harm in vulnerable areas of the sea.

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Members of the panel include:

  • Susan Owens OBE, Emeritus Professor of Environment and Policy at Cambridge University.
  • Joan Edwards, Director of Living Seas at The Wildlife Trusts.
  • Callum Roberts, Professor of Marine Biology at The University of York and trustee of both Nekton Oxford Deep Ocean Research Institute and the Blue Marine Foundation.
  • Michel Kaiser, Professor of Fisheries Conservation and Heriot Watt University.
  • Benji Sykes, UK Country Manager of Ørsted’s Offshore wind business.
  • Nathan de Rozarieux, inshore fisherman and fisheries consultant.
  • Peter Barham, facilitator for the Seabed User and Developer Group, a representative group of UK marine industries.

The newly established team will examine both the social and economic impact of potential HPMAs on businesses and individuals who use British waters. A variety of viewpoints will be taken into account, from those of fishermen and residents to conservation groups and marine-based industries. The review will also consider types of activity that could continue without causing harm, including navigation through these areas.

“The seas around our coast are a vital asset for nature and all those who rely on them to make a living,” said Benyon. “This panel brings a broad range of expert experience, including those who study, use and benefit from the bounty of our ocean. Together we will consider carefully over the course of the next six months whether and where we can go further to safeguard marine life balancing the interests of fishing, conservation and local communities.”

The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) said in a statement in June that it welcomes the decision to form a group to review the potential of HPMAs, but also that it must result in action.

“We welcome this announcement from the Secretary of State, and this level of commitment is long overdue,” said Dr Peter Richardson, Head of Ocean Recovery at the MCS. “There have been other reviews of the potential for HPMAs so this one must result in action. Highly protected sites are known to be the most effective tool for marine wildlife recovery, and new sites in our waters would provide significant benefits for our threatened marine species and habitats.”

There are currently 91 Marine Conservation Zones and 175 Marine Protected Areas of varying types around the UK, all of which could be complemented by HPMAs.

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