Fiona has welcomed the Government’s plans announced today to extend the ‘Blue Belt’, protecting rare sea life and threatened habitats around the English coast.
The Environment Secretary Michael Gove set out plans to create more than 40 new Marine Conservation Zones across the UK – safeguarding almost 12,000 square kilometres of marine habitats and marking the most significant expansion of the UK’s ‘Blue Belt’ of protected areas to date. The proposed protections – announced on World Oceans Day - will cover an area almost eight times the size of Greater London.
The new sites will reach right the way across England’s coastline – from the South West to Berwick on the Scottish border. No new activities deemed damaging – such as dredging, or significant coastal or offshore development – will be allowed to take place in these areas. Existing harmful activities will be minimised or stopped to allow important habitats to be restored over time. Rare or threatened marine habitats and species which will be protected include the short snouted seahorse, stalked jellyfish and peacock’s tail seaweed.
The Prime Minister will be calling for urgent global action to protect the world’s oceans from plastics and other harmful waste, speaking at the G7 summit in Canada. She will say that without joined-up, global action, we cannot effectively tackle this shared environmental challenge.
The Environment Secretary has today announced a total of 41 new Marine Conservation Zones. Some 50 zones have already been designated around England as part of the UK’s ambitious Blue Belt programme, including the first tranche of 27 zones designated in 2013, followed by the second tranche of 23 sites in 2016. This third and final tranche will be designated within 12 months of the consultation, which will last for a period of six weeks. It will cover approximately 11,700 square km, bringing the total area of protection to over 32,000 square km.
Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, said:
“The UK is surrounded by some of the richest and most diverse sea life in the world. We must protect these precious habitats for future generations. Today marks an important step towards completing our Blue Belt. We are creating safe havens for our cherished wildlife and putting the UK at the forefront of marine protection.”
“I welcome the Government’s plans to extend the Blue Belt, providing further protection to our beautiful coastline. It is not only important to protect our own coastline, but also take a lead internationally in encouraging other countries to do more to protect marine life and so I am proud that Theresa May has made this an issue of importance at the G7 summit. I am pleased that this Government has taken the issue of protecting our coastline for future generations so seriously. You can take part in the consultation here: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/marine-conservation-zones-t…”