Nationally important nature reserves protect our coastal wildlife in the Humber, The Wash and the open coast. But, until now, out to sea there was little protection for wildlife. This November, the Marine and Coastal Access Bill received Royal Assent and became an Act and law.
The Wildlife Trusts have campaigned for 10 years for better protection of marine habitats and wildlife, as well as improved management of activities at sea. The Marine and Coastal Access Act will bring about new laws allowing the creation of a network of ecologically coherent Marine Protected Areas.
Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust’s Chief Executive, Paul Learoyd, said: "This new law is important for everyone who works, lives near or enjoys our coasts and seas on holiday. The protection it will bring is vital for life in our seas. I am delighted that after so much effort our seas can now receive the protection they deserve."
The Wildlife Trusts’ Chief Executive, Stephanie Hilbourne, added: "We are indebted to our many thousands of supporters and members, who have helped us to champion the Marine Bill over the past decade."
Joan Edwards, The Wildlife Trusts’ Head of Living Seas, said: "We will continue to press for strengthened provisions for marine wildlife conservation as our challenge now is to achieve real change. New legislation is only the beginning. The decisions made, and actions taken, over the next five years will determine the future of the UK’s seas. This is a unique opportunity and we must seize it."
Now, the journey really begins. We have in place the necessary legislation to allow the creation of an ecologically coherent network of Marine Protected Areas (MPA). This network will be implemented through four regional Marine Conservation Zone projects – the North Sea project is called Net Gain. Our job is to ensure the MPA network is established with wildlife at the heart, protecting not only the rare and threatened but a range of marine species and habitats.
Through input into the Net Gain project we will provide information and data supporting the establishment of Marine Conservation Zones. However, we cannot do this alone. We need your help to achieve our vision of Living Seas, ones in which wildlife thrives from the depths of the ocean to the coastal shallows, where wildlife recovers from past declines and adapts to climate change and where people feel inspired by marine wildlife and the value the sea has on their quality of life.
Help us do this and join us on our journey towards Living Seas by:
- Getting outside and exploring your marine environment, visiting a local coastal nature reserve;
- Telling others what’s out there, helping us promote the marine environment;
- Sending us underwater photographs, videos or your stories of the sea;
- Or by attending events or helping volunteer to collect valuable information that will highlight areas of marine life in need of protection.
Find out more by visiting the Living Seas pages of this website and the Wildlife Trusts' North Sea Project website