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Cornwall Wildlife Trust backs new form of protection for the sea

Cornwall Wildlife Trust backs new form of protection for the sea

Published by the Pirate FM News Team at 1:56pm 8th June 2020. (Updated at 6:05am 9th June 2020)

Cornwall Wildlife Trust is backing a new form of protection for the sea, on World Oceans Day.

The Benyon review of Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs) is published by Defra today.

Cornwall Wildlife Trust backs its recommendations that HPMAs should be an essential part of the UK network for protection and recovery of the marine environment, and the government should introduce HPMAs within existing protected areas.

The review is published on World Oceans Day by an independent panel of members from academia, industry and conservation backgrounds and chaired by former MP and Fisheries Minister Richard Benyon.

The Wildlife Trusts believe that there is an overwhelming case for HPMAs across our seas which would see a ban on all damaging activities.

The Wildlife Trusts are calling for an ambitious HPMA delivery plan within a year.

“Our seas are in an impoverished state and it’s hard for our generation to comprehend how abundant our waters once were. Cod were once as long and wide as humans are tall, and whales, dolphins and basking sharks were many times more common than they are today.

"We need to let the sea show us what it’s capable of. Today’s publication proposes a vital way of achieving marine recovery. We want to see real ambition from the Government with a commitment to HPMA delivery plan agreed before World Oceans Day in 2021. Existing Marine Protected Areas are limited in their ability to restore habitats and wildlife because their remit to protect nature only extends as far as maintaining the status quo. In these areas only some of the most damaging activities are prevented and even then, only in some locations."

             Joan Edwards, director of marine conservation at The Wildlife Trusts


Joan Edwards, one of the review's panel members goes on to say: “In Highly Protected Marine Areas, on the other hand, all damaging activities including fishing, dredging, construction and sea angling would be banned."

"This new type of designation means that nature could properly recover."

"HPMAs could be monitored to allow us to understand what a thriving seabed and restored marine life really means - they could set a bar against which other sorts of protected areas could be measured.”

The Wildlife Trusts believe that HPMAs should be designated in each regional sea, in both inshore and offshore English waters, encompassing a range of habitats so that experts can study how recovery works in different ecosystems.

In May 2019, the Government announced the creation of 41 new Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) to complete a network of 91 MCZs.

With the aim of protecting vulnerable and rare habitats and species, these sites added to the rich tapestry of MPAs in the UK.

This was progress towards becoming an ‘ecologically coherent’ network – one that is large and well-connected enough to allow an array of habitats to thrive.

Well-enforced HPMAs could be designated across parts of these areas and offer the strictest form of environmental protection; they would become the gold standard of protection, the first of their kind in the UK.

"We were grateful that the views of marine industry were included within the very considered discussions in the panel about HPMAs and how they may be introduced. SUDG warmly welcomes the designation of HPMAs and the outcome of the review is a set of recommendations to Government that we feel puts protection and restoration of marine conservation on a course which SUDG industries can work with comfortably and which will help us in developing better ways of working in the future." 

             Peter Barham Chair of the Seabed Users Development Group (SUDG) 

What is the Government doing? 

The Wildlife Trusts welcomed the news that the Government designated a third phase of 41 new Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) in May 2019. This historic move will help protect the seas around our shores and follows on from previous announcements of 50 MCZs (in 2013 and 2016). It is the third of three phases promised by the Government in order to fulfil the remit of the Marine and Coastal Access Act. 

What is the Wildlife Trusts?

The Wildlife Trusts believe that people need nature and it needs us. We are here to make the world wilder and to make nature part of everyone’s lives. We are a grassroots movement of 46 charities with more than 850,000 members and 38,000 volunteers. No matter where you are in Britain, there is a Wildlife Trust inspiring people and saving, protecting and standing up for the natural world. With the support of our members, we care for and restore special places for nature on land and run marine conservation projects and collect vital data on the state of our seas. Every Wildlife Trust works within its local community to inspire people to create a wilder future – from advising thousands of landowners on how to manage their land to benefit wildlife, to connecting hundreds of thousands of school children with nature every year.  

To find out more about Cornwall Wildlife Trust’s work, events and news visit www.cornwallwildlifetrust.org.uk

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