Friday, 22 February 2013

Marine Conservation Zones

The government, having previously indicated an ambition for the establishment of 127 Marine Conservation Zones (MCZ) is now consulting on a much more modest list of 31 MCZs.  This consultation closes on 31 March 2013.

These 127 MCZs are entirely separate from the additional 65 ‘Reference Areas’ (rRA) recommended to government by the various regional stakeholder projects (in our case NetGain).  The National Trust has previously raised particular concerns in relation to a cluster of inter-tidal ‘Reference Areas’ (rRA), particularly Blakeney Marsh (rRA4).  We have welcomed therefore the advice by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) and Natural England (NE) to government that ‘the process to identify reference areas was flawed and failed to deliver recommendations that satisfy JNCC and Natural England’.  We are therefore pleased that Reference Areas are not part of the current consultation and are not going to be taken forward in their current form and we wait with interest further information on how the review for Reference Areas will be taken forward.

However, we are concerned that the government lacks ambition to protect the marine environment and we wish to see the establishment of a coherent network of MCZs and this should start with the designation of the proposed 127 MCZs (which excludes Reference Areas).

Our position is that the government:

·      Should be more ambitious and commit to establishing a much larger suite of MCZs than the current consultation proposes.
·      Needs to be more realistic about the evidence requirements to support the establishment of MCZs, having now set the bar unnecessarily high.
·      Involve Stakeholders in reconsidering how to best establish a scientific baseline against which the conservation management of the wider MCZ network can be evaluated
·      Should support high quality stakeholder involvement in the setting up and management of MCZs.

Please do have a look at our latest regional blog: 

John Sizer, Property Manager

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