120 Members of Parliament (MPs) and 20 Peers are today calling for a full network of Marine Protected Areas in UK seas.
They are supporting 21 Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) – including Marine Conservation Society, RSPB, The Wildlife Trusts and WWF – who are championing Wildlife and Countryside Link’s ‘Marine Charter’ campaign.
The Charter is calling for commitments within the 2015 General Election manifestos for a full network of Marine Protected Areas in UK Seas.
It is five years ago to the day since the landmark Marine & Coastal Access Act (2009) was passed with overwhelming cross-party support.
The centre-piece of this legislation was the commitment to establish a network of Marine Protected Areas in response to the widely acknowledged crisis facing the health, diversity and productivity of our seas.
Joan Edwards, chairman of Wildlife & Countryside Link’s Marine Working group, said: ‘This political support has added considerable weight to the united call from NGOs, overwhelming numbers of the public and the scientific and industry communities.
‘It is important, however, that this support translates into a firm, timetabled commitment as the parties craft their manifestos.’
While this Parliament has seen the first Marine Conservation Zones established in English Seas, and Scottish Government has designated 30 Nature Conservation MPAs in Scottish Seas, we remain a long way from the full network.
Throughout our seas 35 marine species are still considered threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Only 27 of the 127 Marine Conservation Zones originally proposed for the English component of the UK network, critical to restoring iconic habitats such as eelgrass beds and chalk reefs, have so far been designated.
For a full list of MPs and NGOs supporting Link’s Marine Charter campaign please visit www.marinecharter.org.uk
Picture: Cancer pagurus, commonly known as the edible crab, among other marine life. Credit: Rohan Holt/Marine Conservation Society