Summer might be well and truly over, but my mind is turning once again to the deep blue sea and all the fabulous creatures that live above and below the waves.
As I have blogged before, the UK’s seas are internationally important for wildlife and today’s publication of the long-awaited network of proposed English Marine Conservation Zones is a great step forward towards ensuring the long-term protection of special sites and species. It begins to implement the requirements of the Marine and Coastal Access Act (2009) for which hundreds of thousands of people campaigned for the best part of a decade.
The idea is that nationally important sites are established to complement those of international significance to create what government’s stated ambition of an ecologically coherent network: protecting the best places for wildlife at sea in the same way that we protect our finest sites on land.
The intention is laudable and the announcement of 127 potential Marine Conservation Zones around England’s coast is good news. Any announcement that protects threatened wildlife is good news in my book.
But it is frustrating that key species, such as basking sharks, seabirds and dolphins have largely been ignored by the proposed sites. It is equally frustrating that the UK Government has not made progress in identifying Special Protection Areas for the feeding and resting grounds for our seabirds.
I think that those RSPB members that campaigned for better protection of the marine environment will be scratching their heads as to why there are no sites proposed to protect seabirds.
They might reasonably ask - why on earth would anyone want to insure only half their house or protect only half their possessions? Surely, it’s sensible to safeguard everything that’s valuable to you.
We have been told by government that Marine Protected Areas for seabirds will not be identified until at least 2015. It is wrong to delay protection for key seabirds and other species when there is good information about marine sites that are important and worthy of protection for these species available right now.
We’ve invested a huge amount of effort in contributing to the regional stakeholder groups and it is fair to say that we feel a little short-changed by this announcement.
If you agree, then why not tell the minister, by joining our campaign now.