Defra: Marine Protected Areas Network Report published

2018 Report to Parliament under the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 on progress on a Marine Protected Areas Network Executive summary. This report has been laid before Parliament by the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. It meets the requirements of section 124 of the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 and describes progress made through the Act in establishing a Marine Protected Area (MPA) network within Secretary of State waters during the period 2012-2018. The Act legislates for the creation of Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs). In addition to MCZs, the MPA network consists of European Marine Sites (Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Special Protection Areas (SPAs)) and Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs). The former is legislated for under the EU Habitats and Wild Birds Directives with the latter legislated by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. To read more of this 87 page report click here

Meanwhile Boris Worm and colleagues have concluded that … Marine life worse off inside ‘protected’ areas, analysis reveals  …. Findings expose ‘big lie’ behind European marine conservation, scientists say

Guardian article with lots of links       ‘Destructive trawling is more intense inside official marine sanctuaries, while endangered fish are more common outside them, a startling analysis of Europe’s seas has revealed. It shows that far from conserving sealife, many legal marine protected areas (MPAs) are being damaged by industrial fishing. The work has exposed “the big lie” behind European marine conservation, experts say, with most MPAs completely open to trawling.

The researchers were able to assess the activity of fishing vessels in great detail thanks to satellite tracking equipment that is now compulsory on ships. They compared this with scientific data on the health of sea areas and looked at more than 700 MPAs, covering 16% of Europe’s territorial waters. In total, MPAs cover 29% of Europe’s waters. This revealed that commercial trawling activity was on average almost 40% higher inside MPAs than in unprotected areas. Furthermore, endangered and critically endangered fish species such as sharks and rays were five times more abundant outside the MPAs.

“It should be the reverse,” said Prof Boris Worm, at Dalhousie University in Canada, who led the research. “When something is called a protected area, it actually needs to be protected. We know that when areas are actually protected they deliver: species recover, biodiversity increases and fisheries benefit as well, as fish become more abundant and spill outside these areas.

“One problem we have in the European Union is that while the conservation policies such as MPAs are a national matter, fisheries are managed by the EU as a whole. That disconnect may drive some of the problem we see here. One hand does not know what the other one is doing.”

Click here to read the full article and access the paper in Science.

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