Today the government has launched a consultation asking the public for their views about protecting a new group of Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) – areas at sea where wildlife is protected from damaging activities. 41 special places have been chosen for the public to comment on; these range from the rolling sandbanks of Goodwin Sands, where grey and common seals forage, to the complex and unusual seabed communities of Foreland.
Joan Edwards, Director of Living Seas at The Wildlife Trusts says:
“We’ve been calling for the government to give real protection to a connected network of diverse sea-bed habitats since 2009. Only 50 have been designated so far and this new consultation on 41 special places is really good news. We need to restore the sea-bed that has been ravaged over the past century and allow fragile marine life to recover – and this can only be done with good management. Without these astonishing submerged landscapes there simply wouldn't be any fish, let alone fantastic jewel anemones, seahorses, and all the other wild and extraordinary creatures which are part of a healthy marine ecosystem.”
Kent Wildlife Trust believes that the consultation is a big step in the right direction for England’s seas. Proper protection of these sites after designation will mean that our seas will be given the opportunity to recover. However, there is disappointment that some recommended sites have been partially or entirely left out. For example, off the Kent coast, the recommended site of Hythe Bay, - home to brittle stars, square crabs and green-tongued spoonworms - is missing from the consultation.
John Bennett, Chief Executive of Kent Wildlife Trust, says:
“Kent Wildlife Trust played a key role in identifying recommended sites and actively campaigns for their designation. We welcome this consultation which signals the continued commitment by Government to protect our valuable seas and support their recovery. We are concerned that not all of Kent’s recommended sites are included in the consultation. We will continue to work with Government to press for a full network of protected areas.”
Kent Wildlife Trust is calling on the public to back the 41 potential Marine Conservation Zones in the consultation – details of how to do this will be added to our MCZ page http://www.kentwildlifetrust.org.uk/MCZs . The consultation closes on Friday 20th July 2018.