England gets first Marine Conservation Zone

The waters off Lundy Island has become England's first Marine Conservation Zone, offering legal protection for sealife and habitats.

The Marine and Coastal Access Act allows for the designation of Marine Conservation Zones (MCZ) where all species – not just the rare and threatened – are afforded legal protection from fishing and development.

A further three MCZs are under discussion elsewhere in the UK.

Minister for the Marine Environment, Huw Irranca-Davies said: “With the new Marine Conservation Zone around Lundy Island we have taken the first step in creating a network of marine protected areas.

“We can’t always see what is happening to the wildlife and habitats under our seas, but they need just the same protection as those on land and this world-first in legislation will provide that.”

“The four MCZ projects around England’s coastline are working with local interest groups to identify what other areas should be given this protection and I encourage all those that use the sea for work or recreation to get involved with their local project team.”

Lundy Island, off the coast of Devon, is just over three miles long and half a mile wide and the surrounding waters are home to varied wildlife including a high population of seals, lobsters and a number of different species of coral.

The waters around Lundy were a marine nature reserve, until their change of status to an MCZ. Specific conservation objectives for the island will now be developed which will be open for consultation. Local byelaws will remain in place to protect the island’s wildlife.

Sam Bond

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