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 including 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 recreational boating is one the activities that could be restricted in certain ways by MCZs. For example, anchoring could be restricted within some areas in order to protect certain habitats, or the use of personal watercraft could be restricted seasonally in areas where sensitive wildlife occurs. 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 recreational boaters 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.
In the south-west, Finding Sanctuary has brought together leisure boaters, divers, commercial fishermen, sea anglers, conservationists, scientists and many other marine stakeholders on its Steering Group. Peter Bartlett, from the Royal Yachting Association represents recreational boaters on the 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.
Beth Henshall, Finding Sanctuary’s recreational boating liaison officer, has recently begun collecting information from recreational boaters about which areas they visit, so that we can create a map of recreational boating activity around the south-west. Accurate information about where you visit in the region is essential. This is the information that your representative on the Finding Sanctuary 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.
Over the coming months Beth will be engaging as many recreational boaters as possible across the region. As you can imagine, this is a big undertaking for one person, so it has been necessary to start in one location and work methodically along the coastline. Consequently, her work recently began in the wider Plymouth area, and has started to move around the coastline towards the Yealm, Salcombe and Dartmouth areas. Please be assured that all of the coastline of the southwest will be covered, but it may be that the focus of research does not reach your local area until the New Year. She is approaching as many clubs, sea schools, training centres, charter companies, sailing charities, marinas, mooring associations, boat yards, and dry storage locations as possible, to let them know about the project, and ask them to inform their customers/students/members. As well as direct engagement with leisure boaters, over the coming months we will submit articles to key boating publications as well as newsletters sent by marinas, yacht havens, dry storage, mooring associations and estuary forums to make sure people know about how they can get involved.
If you are a recreational boater using the sea in the south-west, we are asking you to share your information about which areas of sea are important to you.
There are three ways you can do this:
1. Visit our Interactive Map
2. Contact Finding Sanctuary’s recreational boating liaison officer, Beth Henshall at firstname.lastname@example.org
who will meet with you and 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.
Tel: 01392 878 340
If you want to contact any of the other regional projects their details are below.
Tel: 01227 827 839
Tel: 01482 382 007
Irish Sea Conservation Zones
Tel: 01925 813 200