Saving UK Seas

UK ShorelineThe Marine Conservation Society, UK’s leading charity for the protection of the sea, wants to designate new Marine Conservation Zones and new Marine Protected Areas off the coast of their island nation.  The Society is calling for scientific criteria to be used to select these zones, and laws to help fully protect 30% of the seas.  Further, the Marine Conservation Society believes that if commercial interests are allowed a say in what areas are to be designated as protected, then so should the public.

Sea oil rigThe Marine Conservation Society reports that currently only about 5 square kms (less than 1%) of the UK seas are fully protected from detrimental activities including oil and gas extraction, fishing, and dredging.  That’s far less than the 10% to 40% that science reveals needs to be protected.  The 1% includes three Marine Reserves – there are 148 other places classified as Marine Protected Areas which receive only partial protection from activities such as dredging, fishing and construction.

Seas possess such extreme diversity that it makes it crucial to save these areas.  And they recover well.  The variety of life increases by 21% while the volume of life increases by 466% once damaging or extractive activities are stopped inside marine reserves.

harbor seal  Phoca vitulinaThe Marine Conservation Society has been campaigning for more effective protection of the UK seas and marine wildlife for over 25 years.  Recently, they introduced a voting contest for UK residents who can vote for the protection of a specific area, using an online map  with 73 nominated sites based on 20 years of dive research. Voters are allowed to nominate their own site as well.  Altogether, it’s an opportunity for UK residents to show they care about their seas, shores and wildlife.

With the successful creation of UK and Scottish Marine Bills, different UK governments are now working towards establishing a network of marine protected areas by 2012.  The Marine Conservation Society wants these sites to be chosen based on the best scientific advice.  When sites are ecologically equal, then social and economic interests should be considered.  The voices of UK citizens can help make the decision.  It has been 25 years in the making – now is the time to act.

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