127 Marine Conservation Zones
Thomas Bell is the Conservation Campaigns Manager at the Marine Conservation Society (one of the MRC’s six member organisations). Here he talks about their ongoing campaign to protect our seas…
2008 – Marine Reserves Now! – 500,000 pledged their support for better protection
2010 – Your Seas Your Voice – 20,000 told us what to protect
2012 – 127 Marine Conservation Zones – a historic opportunity for change
I have a three year old son. When I was his age, our seas were in a relatively healthy state. Science tells us that when he’s my age, there may be little left except seaweed and jellyfish. Human activity could have reduced oceans that we once believed were a limitless source of food and wellbeing to a watery wasteland. Is that the legacy we want to gift our children with?
Our generation has a historic and unprecedented chance to protect English seas by supporting the designation of 127 Marine Conservation Zones in 2013. We know globally that about 30% of the ocean needs protection if we’re to halt the huge decline in marine biodiversity. 127 Marine Conservation Zones will mean that 27% of England’s seas are protected and we will have a taken a meaningful step towards a better future for our seas and our children.
Our ‘127 Marine Conservation Zones’ campaign is the latest step on a journey the Marine Conservation Society began in 2008 to gain protection for the UK’s seas. Half a million people joined our ‘Marine Reserves Now!’ campaign in 2008, calling for a network of marine protected areas covering 30% of the UK’s seas. Their support helped bring us the Marine and Coastal Access Act in 2009.
In 2010, 20,000 people signed up to the Marine Conservation Society’s ‘Your Seas Your Voice’ campaign, and told us exactly what they’d like to see protected and why. Another one million people joined the Government’s regional consultations at a cost of close to £10 million, and this huge public conversation resulted in 127 Marine Conservation Zones in English seas being put forward to the Government in September 2011. These sites were proposed, discussed and agreed by anyone whose love or livelihood is invested in the sea. The Government had committed to establishing this Marine Conservation Zone network by the end of 2012; a deadline that has now been pushed back to next year. The Government’s own scientists concluded in July that all 127 Marine Conservation Zones need to be designated.
It should be a cause for celebration, but sadly, at this eleventh hour, the Government’s commitment is wavering in the face of a sustained challenge from powerful industries who’d prefer to push aside the views of well over one million people for their own self-interest. Our latest intelligence suggests that the ‘greenest Government ever’ may now designate just 18 to 40 sites. A final decision will be made by Government following a public consultation between December and March.
We cannot lose this historic opportunity for change. The Marine Conservation Society is therefore inviting you to join us on the next step of our campaign to protect our seas by pledging support for 127 Marine Conservation Zones in English waters.
Take the next step… we need 200,000 pledges of support.
Visit www.mcsuk.org/mpa to pledge your support and write to your local MP
Visit one of the Sea Life centres across the country supporting our ‘127 Marine Conservation Zones’ campaign, see some amazing marine life and sign a pledge card for ‘127 Marine Conservation Zones’.
We want 5,000 to respond directly the Government consultation. Bookmark www.mcsuk.org/mpa, watch for our consultation response pack in December and take that extra step by joining our 127 Marine Conservation Zones parliamentary campaign.
Wouldn’t it be great if our children knew it was our generation who took a stand and made the change for a better future?