The chances of recovery for marine life in English seas have been boosted by the creation of new Marine Conservation Zones, says the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) following the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) announcement that it is designating a further 23 Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) in English seas.
Among the newly created MCZs are Cromer Shoal Chalk Beds - the longest chalk reef known in Europe; Farnes East - one of the deepest patches of the North Sea, reaching to between 30-100 metres in depth; Greater Haig Fras - the only substantial area of rocky reef in the Celtic Sea and Mounts Bay covering St Michael's Mount and the Marazion area - home to important species such as seagrass, stalked jellyfish and crayfish.
The new sites bring the total number of MCZs in English sites to 50.
While the MCS highlights that that number is still some way off the original number proposed by the Government’s scientific advisors, sea users and conservation groups five years ago, the Society says it is pleased that the Government appears to be sticking to its commitment to develop a full network of sites, in addition to these 50, with a third and final consultation and designation process due during 2017/18.
Melissa Moore, MCS Head of Policy, says the creation of these latest MCZs marks a step forward in stemming an alarming decline in England’s rich marine biodiversity: “Stunning habitats such as the chalk reefs near Cromer and deep water rocks at Farnes East will now be better protected for future generations as will iconic species such as the ocean quahog, pink sea fan and European eel.”
MCS says designation of sites is just the first step.
“We’re recommending that the final tranche in 2017 includes South Celtic Deep - a site that supports short-beaked common dolphin -Norris to Ryde, which is rich in seagrass meadows, Mud Hole off the north west coast - 35 metres deep and home to rare sea pens - and Compass Rose off the Yorkshire coast, which is an important spawning and nursery ground for herring and lemon sole. Once the full network is finally designated in 2018, we look forward to English seas beginning to recover from decades of damage," aded Moore.
Picture caption: © Acceleratorhams | Dreamstime.com
View towards Mullion and Lizard Point Cornwall from St Michaels Mount