UK’s coastal “Blue Belt” extended
Britain’s coastal “Blue Belt” of protected Marine Conservation Zones has been extended in a bid to conserve habitats for wildlife, including stalked jellyfish and spiny lobsters and geological features such as chalk reefs.
This expansion of the coastal “Blue Belt” means that 8,000 square miles are now under protection, a total of 20 per cent of English waters, with 23 new zones added to the list.
The new conservation zones will cover a variety of areas across the British Isles from Runswick Bay in the North Sea to Lands End on the Southwest coastline.
Marine Environment Minister, George Eustice, said: “It’s vital that we protect our marine environment to ensure our seas remain healthy, our fishing industry remains prosperous, and future generations can enjoy our beautiful beaches”
However, many fishermen’s groups are concerned that there are currently no management plans in many of the new areas as to where they are allowed to fish. They state that it will be difficult to balance the competing interests between the fishermen and the conservationists at the reserves.
Paul Trebilcock, from the Cornish Fish Producers Association, said: “The majority of fishermen rely on the marine environment being healthy to make a living – they have more interest in keeping it healthy than anybody. To hear the government drawing a line and saying it’s all fine doesn’t inspire much confidence”
In the coming months, the Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority will be working with the Marine management Organisation to develop a management strategy that will benefit both the fishermen and the conservationists.