What’s Going On Here?
The UK Government announced the creation of 41 new marine conservation zones around the UK’s coastline, covering an area eight times the size of London and expanding the UK’s marine ‘Blue Belt’ to an area twice the size of England.
What Does This Mean?
This is the largest expansion of the UK’s marine ‘Blue Belt’ to date. The expansion comes after extensive deliberation by the fishing industry, marine conservation experts and 48,000 contributions by members of the public (well done you!).
The new protected areas span the UK from the coast of Northumberland to the Scilly Isles. The rare stalked jellyfish, short-snouted seahorse, and basking sharks are also among those species that will benefit.
The environment secretary, Michael Gove, said: “The UK is already leading the rest of the world by protecting 30% of our ocean – but we know there is more to do.”
Despite the impressive statistics, the marine ‘Blue Belt’ conservation zones have been criticised as being “paper parks” because they don’t prevent all types of fishing.
Why Should We Care?
In the Year of Green Action, this announcement is part of the UK’s wider commitment to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity’s target to protect 10% of the world’s coastal and marine areas by 2020.
After two centuries of industrial fishing, UK seas have been depleted of much of its marine life. It is now 25 times harder to catch fish than it was in the mid 19th century!
Yet this is about more than fishing. In light of the UN biodiversity report – a healthy marine ecosystem is a more resilient ecosystem to the impacts of climate change.
Saturday 8th June is World Oceans Day! If you want to get involved in helping to clean up the coast around you then why not find an event near you!
Alternatively, here are a few tips on how to reduce your impact on the ocean!