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11 March 2011

New progress report published

The latest suggestions for possible Marine Conservation Zones in the Irish Sea project area have been published.

There are ten possible zones throughout the project area. The different possible zones aim to protect a wide variety of marine habitats and species.

People are being urged to comment on the possible sites as it is the last chance to do so before final recommendations go to the government in August.

The progress report and comment forms can be downloaded from the Progress Reports page of this website, or requested by emailing info@irishseaconservation.org.uk or calling 01925 813 200.

The recommendations for the zones in the Irish Sea project area are being formulated by a Regional Stakeholder Group made up of around 40 people with diverse interests, from fishermen to sea anglers, yachtsmen, scientists, industry representatives and conservationists.

The Regional Stakeholder Group’s recommendations will be based on the best available evidence, plus their own first-hand knowledge and experience of the sea.

It is the first time that the innovative stakeholder-led approach has been used to recommend marine protection in the UK and no other country in the world has adopted the approach on such a large scale.

Marine Conservation Zones aim to conserve areas of the sea protecting rare, threatened and representative marine habitats and species, whilst minimising socio-economic costs to sea users.

The aim is for Marine Conservation Zones to have the least impact possible on people’s activities, but some restrictions will apply as the zones must meet guidelines for protecting species and habitats.  

Dr Greg Whitfield, project manager at Irish Sea Conservation Zones, said: “This latest progress report is the last big chance for people to comment on possible Marine Conservation Zones before the recommendations go to the government.

“We had over 80 responses to our last progress report and we are hoping to hear from at least as many people again this time round.

“I also want to thank our Regional Stakeholder Group for the excellent progress they have made to develop the ten potential Marine Conservation Zones in the Irish Sea project area.

“These are close to satisfying a wide range of ecological, commercial and recreational interests, although they are likely to change again as a result of further negotiations in the coming months.”

By the end of 2010, ISCZ had met 3,000 people at over 230 meetings in 92 different locations in North West England, Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland and the Isle of Man. The team gathered almost 300 questionnaires from sea users that capture vital firsthand knowledge about the Irish Sea.

The project will make its final recommendations for Marine Conservation Zones in the Irish Sea project area in August.

A formal public consultation will follow in early 2012, when people will have another chance to comment on the recommended zones.