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7 April 2010

Protection strategy published

The government’s strategy for delivering a network of Marine Protected Areas has been announced by Defra.

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) will be vital to protect many species of sea life, from the rare and threatened to the more common, as well as helping ensure our seas and oceans remain healthy and clean.

The strategy sets out how the government intends to create an ecologically coherent network of MPAs.

The network is needed to meet international and EU agreements, as well as national commitments contained in the groundbreaking Marine and Coastal Access Act.

Launching the strategy, marine environment minister Huw Irranca-Davies, said:

“Our blue spaces are just as important as our green spaces for our very existence. The seas and oceans help to provide us with the air we breathe, strongly affect the world’s climate and support 80 per cent of the world’s biodiversity. They need the same protection as the land.

“This strategy looks to the longer term, and will help to deliver a network of MPAs that will provide this protection so that we achieve our aim of a healthy, clean and vibrant marine environment.”

The network will be made up from conservation measures including:

·         Marine Conservation Zones

·         Scottish Marine Protected Areas

·         Special Areas of Conservation - a requirement of the EU Habitats Directive;

·         Special Protection Areas designated under the EU Wild Birds Directive

·         Sites of Special Scientific Interest

·         Ramsar sites which protect important wetlands.

The strategy also sets out how MPAs will be considered in wider planning and licensing functions administered by the new Marine Management Organisation (MMO).

The MMO will play an important role in helping to deliver conservation objectives and will ensure that any adverse affect on MPAs will, as far as possible be avoided.