A formal consultation to legally protect four of England’s 40 offshore Marine Protected Areas has been launched.
The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) consultation is the next phase in the post-Brexit UK Government’s ambitious plans for a ‘Blue Belt’ of marine protected areas around the UK’s seas. The MMO is consulting on byelaws being proposed under new powers introduced under the Fisheries Act. These byelaws aim to prohibit fishing activities in Marine Protected Areas where there is evidence that they harm wildlife or damage habitats.
Tom McCormack, CEO of MMO, said: “This consultation is a big step forward in agreeing measures that will help protect and revive important marine habitats, vital to the unique and vibrant marine life that live within them.
“We are ambitious for England’s seas and want to hear as many views as possible in order to create benefits for people and the economy, while protecting our precious marine environment for future generations.”
Four areas under consideration
The MMO is seeking views on proposed byelaws for the following four offshore Marine Protected Areas: Dogger Bank Special Area of Conservation (East of England); Inner Dowsing, Race Bank and North Ridge Special Area of Conservation (The Wash approaches, off the Lincolnshire and North Norfolk coasts); South Dorset Marine Conservation Zone (South West - Dorset); and The Canyons Marine Conservation Zone (South West – Offshore).
The consultation runs from 1 February 2021 to 28 March 2021.
Management measures to tackle unsustainable activities are already in place within many inshore sites through byelaws introduced by both MMO and the Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities.
By Rebecca Jeffrey