In June of this year, the government announced a six-month review to assess whether Highly Protected Marine Areas could be introduced in UK waters. The Wildlife Trusts have a presence on the panel conducting the review through the inclusion of Joan Edwards, Director of Living Seas.
This form of designation would provide stronger protections than seen in Marine Conservation Zones, and represent an important step towards forming an effective 'blue belt' network of Marine Protected Areas around the UK.
Due to the reduced level of human activity they would allow, Highly Protected Marine Areas also present an opportunity to better understand the impact of that activity on our marine life. By acting as reference areas against which other sites can be measured, they could help to ensure that the targets for other designations are sufficiently ambitious.
As part of the review process, DEFRA is inviting communities, industry, and other stakeholders for their comments. You have until 31 October to submit views and evidence, so don't miss your chance to have a say.