A huge wave of public support will shake Westminster today as a quarter of a million people call for greater protection for the UK’s seas and coastline. 250,000 signatures on the Wildlife Trusts’ Petition Fish will be presented to Natural Environment Minister Richard Benyon at a Parliamentary reception at the House of Commons, hosted by the Wildlife Trusts. Dorset Wildlife Trust collected 9000of these signed scales around the county as well as thousands of online signatures.
Dorset Wildlife Trust hopes to meet local MPs to highlight the unprecedented opportunity that this country has to protect our marine environment using Marine Conservation Zones. There are 8 recommended MCZs off the coast in Dorset of which 3 made it onto the Government’s consultation list recently. These are Poole Rocks in Poole Bay, Chesil & Stennis Ledges, home to rare pink seafans and native oysters and South Dorset, an area of mixed seabed habitats lying in deeper water. Dorset Wildlife Trust was particularly disappointed that Studland Bay was not included, given the overwhelming evidence and ecological value of the site.
Today, Dorset Wildlife Trust calls for:
The Government to designate all 31 of the proposed MCZs in 2013 and enforce appropriate management in these sites as soon as possible. 31 Marine Conservation Zones are a step forward, but nowhere near enough for an ecological coherent network.
The Government to set a clear timetable for the rest of the network to be designated.
The sites identified by Natural England as being most under threat to be designated urgently.
The evidence that the Government spent £5m collecting last year (which has not yet been used) to be taken into account immediately, along with that collected by stakeholders in 2012.
Proper protection of sites as soon as they are designated – including banning bottom-trawling and dredging in these areas.
Emma Rance, Marine Conservation Officer at Dorset Wildlife Trust, said: “We are concerned over the Government’s preference to designate up to 31 sites. This implies that the actual number designated may be even lower. We urge the public to show their support by responding to the Government’s consultation. We need to ensure that the remaining sites are not forgotten.”
Go to www.wildlifetrusts.org to respond to the consultation.