The Government is proposing to designate just 31 marine conservation zones from the list of 127 that were recommended by experts and stakeholders. The 127 recommended Marine Conservation Zones were chosen after two years of hard work by more than one million stakeholders from all sectors of the marine environment and at a cost of over £8.8 million to Government.
The Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust is bitterly disappointed by this lack of ambition and saddened to see the collaborative efforts of so many go to waste. Only 3 of the 26 sites in the North Sea have made it onto the list for designation next year, none of which are off the Lincolnshire coast.
Lincolnshireís long sandy coastline and the two estuaries of the Humber and The Wash are vitally important for wildlife: the little terns that nest at Gibraltar Point, fish for sand eels in the shallows; there are spawning and nursery grounds for fish such as lemon sole, plaice and herring; and the 1,500 grey seal pups born at Donna Nook this year are now heading out to sea. Their first swim is in one of the Marine Conservation Zones that the Government has rejected from the list to be designated in 2013.
Called the Lincolnshire Belt, the zone stretches 35km from the Humber Channel to Anderby Creek, from the low tideline out to sea 5.5km (3 nautical miles). The sea bed is teeming with life with sponges, sea anemones, crabs, shrimps and fish: many of which are potential food for the young seals.
But these rich and varied landscapes under our seas have virtually no protection and are at risk. For too long, we have taken this environment for granted, taking too much, with too little care, and destroying fragile habitats. We wouldn't stand by and watch our wildflower meadows and bluebell woodlands being destroyed in this way. We must provide our seas with the protection they need.
We would like to thank everyone who has already taken part in the campaign for Marine Conservation Zones but now we need your help more than ever. The Government has launched a consultation to determine the details of the designation of the 31 zones. There will also be an opportunity to show support for the remaining 96 zones. Early in the New Year, the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust will release details on how anyone who cares about our sealife and marine environment can take part in this consultation.
Visit the Marine Conservation Zone pages of The Wildlife Trusts website: