Finding Sanctuary: Marine Conservation Zones coming soon to south-west England

by David Proudfoot

The Marine and Coastal Access Act introduces a new national designation for marine protection – Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs). MCZs must be identified and designated in the seas around England, to help create a coherent network of marine protected areas by 2012. New Marine Conservation Zones and existing designations: European Marine Sites, Marine Nature Reserves and Sites of Special Scientific Interest, will make up the network of marine protected areas.

No Marine Conservation Zones have been proposed yet but sea angling is one the activities that could be restricted in certain ways by MCZs. For example, some sites may become no-take zones in order to meet conservation targets, therefore it is important that you know how you can influence these decisions now, before they have been made.

Four projects have been set up around England to work with sea anglers and other sea users to decide where these zones should go and what level of protection they should have. These projects are: Finding Sanctuary in the south-west, Balanced Seas in the south-east, Net Gain for the North Sea and Irish Sea Conservation Zones for the Irish Sea.

Sea angling is recognised as an important activity in the south-west and with a detailed knowledge of local marks and fish ecology, sea anglers will play a vital role in developing ideas for MCZs, ensuring they protect key areas such as spawning and nursery grounds.

In the south-west, Finding Sanctuary has brought together sea anglers, divers, commercial fishermen, sailors, conservationists, scientists and many other marine stakeholders on its Steering Group. The Steering Group is responsible for drawing the lines on maps – deciding where MCZs should be placed and what level of protection they should have. The level of protection given to each MCZ will be decided on a case by case basis. The Steering Group will make its recommendations to Government in June 2011 and the final decision lies with the Ministers.

We have several liaison officers collecting information from sea anglers about which areas of sea they use, so that we can create a map of sea angling activity around the south-west. Accurate information about where sea angling takes place in the region is essential, as this is the information that the sea angling representatives on the Steering Group will use to stand up for your interests during the negotiations, with the aim of minimising the impact of MCZs on your activity. The sea angling representatives on the Finding Sanctuary Steering Group are Peter MacConnell (B.A.S.S. & Angling Trust), Mike Bailey (Brixham Angling Club) and Paul Taylor (Cornish Federation of Sea Anglers). We want to work with you to ensure we get the best result for everyone involved, but if we don’t know which areas are important to you, Peter, Mike and Paul can’t try to avoid them when planning MCZs.

There are three ways you can get involved to have your say:
1. Visit our Interactive Map
2. Call Finding Sanctuary on 01392 878 340 and arrange to meet your nearest liaison officer who will help you to map the areas which are important to you.
3. Join us at one of our drop in days around the south-west over the next few months for more information, to ask questions or record the sea areas you use on our maps. New dates and venues for drop in days are being added frequently and are detailed on the News section of our website.

We will try to check back here from time to time, but if you have any questions, suggestions or concerns please get in touch with us directly.

Finding Sanctuary
Email: Tel: 01392 878 340

If you fish in other parts of the country get in touch with your nearest project.

Balanced Seas
Email: Tel: 01227 827 839

North Sea
Net Gain
Email: Tel: 01482 382 007

Irish Sea
Irish Sea Conservation Zones
Email: Tel: 01925 813 200

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