Add your voice to save the Irish Sea
Nature lovers have just one week to add their voice to the call to protect the Irish Sea and all its diverse inhabitants.
The North West Wildlife Trusts are asking the Government to designate two areas – Allonby Bay and West of Walney – as Marine Conservation Zones.
Marine Conservation Zones are a type of protected area at sea where human activity is restricted to protect wildlife and habitats.
NW Marine Conservation Officer Emily Baxter said: “Our seas are suffering from overfishing, exploitation for resources and damage to natural habitats. A network of protected areas at sea is vital to the future health of our seas, their ecosystems and wildlife.
“The muddy habitats of the Irish Sea are as diverse as the Amazon rainforest and coral reefs. There are also living reefs that support a wealth of species from sponges, crabs, lobsters, and anemones to an array of seaweeds. At least a dozen species of cetacean (whales, dolphins and porpoises) and 30 species of shark including the basking shark, the world’s second largest fish, live in the Irish Sea.”
At present both areas are among 23 planned MCZs going through a consultation process which ends on April 24. The Wildlife Trusts are keen for people who have lived or worked by the Irish Sea or spent time on holiday – at Blackpool or Southport – to have their say on its protection.
Emily said: “When the current consultation was launched in January this year, The Wildlife Trusts were frustrated at the lack of ambition shown by the Government – only 23 out of a possible 37 sites were included. In other words, 14 sites were dropped due to economic cost. The Government has, to date, shown slow progress in achieving longer-term gains that will benefit marine wildlife and fishing.
“The centrepiece of the landmark Marine & Coastal Access Act (2009) legislation was the commitment to establish a network of Marine Protected Areas throughout UK seas; a response to the widely acknowledged crisis facing the health, diversity and productivity of our seas. While this Parliament has seen the first designations, we remain a long way from the full network.”
That network of MCZs would create a link between areas allowing species to move around and flourish.
Originally 127 zones were proposed after two years of negotiations involving fishermen, conservationists, shipping companies and other sea users. During the first phase of the process, just 27 MCZs were designated. Currently the government is asking the public what they think about a further 23 being.
To support the Wildlife Trusts’ campaign go to www.irishsea.org/what-are-MCZs and take action.