Sea users who want their data to play a part in shaping the location of Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) should get in touch with the four regional MCZ projects in England as soon as possible.
Jamie Davies, the MCZ Project national delivery leader, said: “Time is running out for the collection of data on which the regional MCZ projects will base their recommendations for the locations and conservation objectives of MCZs. We want to encourage everyone with relevant information to share it now with the regional MCZ Projects, so that it can be included in the regional profiles which will be used by the four projects over the next nine months to finalise their recommendations. If you use the sea, whether for business or pleasure, please get involved now, while there’s still time to ensure your interests are represented in the planning of MCZs.”
Marine Conservation Zones are a new type of Marine Protected Area. The aim is for MCZs to have the least impact possible on people’s activities; but some restrictions will apply, as MCZs must meet guidelines for protecting species and habitats. The MCZ Project has already heard from thousands of people, but it wants to hear from even more. The combination of public participation with the best scientific evidence available should mean that recommendations for MCZs will stand more chance of popular success. It is the first time in the UK that this innovative ‘bottom up’ approach has been used to recommend Marine Protected Areas.
Any club, group, association or individual who wants to share information can either telephone their local liaison officer from the regional MCZ projects, or input data on an interactive map: www.mczmapping.org
The four regional MCZ projects are:
Balanced Seas (south-east) T: 01227 827 839 / www.balancedseas.org
Finding Sanctuary (south-west) T: 01392 878 328 / www.finding-sanctuary.org
Irish Sea Conservation Zones (Irish Sea) T: 01925 813 200 / www.irishseaconservation.org.uk
Net Gain (North Sea) T: 01482 382 007 / www.netgainmcz.org
Final proposals will be passed on to Government advisors in June 2011. The Department for the Environment, Food & Rural Affairs will hold a public consultation on proposed MCZs later that year, and it aims to designate MCZs in 2012.