Tuesday, 22 November 2011

A major setback for our seas. Add your voice today to the marine campaign

Our seas are suffering serious damage and need protection now, according to the Devon Wildlife Trust, in response to the recent ministerial statement which announced a delay on the protection of marine wildlife. Stakeholders across the country had been expecting the government to give the go ahead to designate 127 Marine Conservation Zones across the nation's seas, where some of our most important marine wildlife would be protected. This was to be a landmark moment in protecting our marine environment. Harry Barton, Chief Executive of the Devon Wildlife Trust says, "The statement sends a worrying signal that the Government is dragging its heels on designating the network of sites recommended by stakeholder groups." The proposed network of Marine Conservation Zones includes areas of sea off the coast of Devon, such as Torbay and much of the north coast. In a surprise announcement, the Government has said that it needs more evidence before it takes action. Yesterday's statement by the Natural Environment and Fisheries Minister Richard Benyon gave no firm guarantee that any part of the recommended network will be designated, and confirmed that no sites would be designated before 2013, a year later than planned. Harry Barton says, "There is indisputable evidence that the wildlife in our seas is declining, and that we need urgent action now to conserve it. Wildlife in our seas receives far less protection than on land, and until very recently there has been only one marine nature reserve in English waters - around Lundy, in Devon. This is a once in a generation opportunity to put this right. More than a million people representing fishermen, conservationists and businesses have worked closely together for two years to identify the network of sites, taking the many different interests into account. What more information does the government want before it takes action?" Devon Wildlife Trust agrees with the government's scientific advisers that all 127 sites need to be designated if the network is to work. Harry Barton concluded, "This announcement is a huge disappointment and will put yet more pressure on marine wildlife. This is a time for decisive action, not discussion and delay. The government has said it wants to be the greenest ever. It needs to stand firm in its commitment and deliver the network of protected sites that local stakeholders and scientists have recommended to it." Add your voice today to the marine campaign by signing a Petition Fish scale at www.devonwildlifetrust.org

Thongweed, snakelocks anemone,ballan wrasse (Paul Naylor)

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