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13 January 2010

First conservation zone

Lundy Island, one of England’s most spectacular marine habitats, has become England’s first Marine Conservation Zone.
The seas around Lundy are home to an impressive range of wildlife, such as grey seals, red band fish, crawfish and at least eight species of coral (which include pink sea fans, red sea fingers and sunset cup corals).
The remote island is also the only place in the UK where five cup corals exist together.
Its importance was recognised by its designation as a Marine Nature Reserve in 1986. It was also designated as a Special Area of Conservation in 2000 because of its special habitats, which include reefs, sea caves and sandbanks
Its change of designation to a Marine Conservation Zones makes it the first example of a new approach to marine protection being taken under the Marine and Coastal Access Act.
The new zone will cover the same area as the former Marine Nature Reserve and the management of the island’s waters, including its No Take Zone, will remain in place unchanged.
By 2012 a network of well-managed marine protected areas similar to Lundy Island will be created in the waters around the UK, including in the Irish Sea.
Not all the conservation zones will be same as Lundy Island – they will protect different species and habitats and so restrict different activities.