Today the government has announced the designation of 41 new Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) around the coasts of England and Northern Island, and we are very pleased to share that two of these are in our local waters.
Marine Conservation Zones are a kind of Marine Protected Area, which is an area managed in a particular way in order to safeguard its special wildlife and habitats. We have been involved in the process of designating Marine Conservation Zones since it began in 2009, as part of our drive for living seas.
The government has now designated 91 Marine Conservation Zones in total. Our new zones - Yarmouth to Cowes and Bembridge - join The Needles, which we were delighted to have designated in 2016.
Responding to today’s announcement, Debbie Tann, CEO of Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, said: “We are very pleased to see two local areas given this level of recognition. We have some incredible marine species and habitats here – from colour changing cuttlefish and magnificent seagrass meadows to seahorses and stalked jellyfish – and we know that, with such busy local waters, our wildlife can really struggle.
"Properly managed, these new underwater ‘nature reserves’ around the Island should provide much needed safe-havens and will form part of a wider Nature Recovery Network across English waters.
“Thank you to everyone who backed our campaign to secure these vital protections. Over the past decade or more we have gathered evidence and public support for these Marine Conservation Zones. With three local areas now designated, the task ahead is to ensure that the management and conservation measures live up to this promise and really play a part in restoring our marine life and livelihoods.
“We are, of course, disappointed that we don’t yet have a complete local network, as we are still missing protections for other important habitats and areas such as the seagrass meadows found between Norris and Ryde and the native oyster beds at Fareham Creek. However, today’s announcement does take us a significant step closer to creating a wilder future for our seas.”