Cromer Shoal Chalk Beds, Norfolk's MCZ designated in 2016 (Rob Spray)

New wave of protection for the sea announced today


Friday 31 May, 2019


Today Norfolk Wildlife Trust welcomes the news that the Government is designating a third phase of 41 new Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs). This historic move will help protect the seas around our shores and follows on from previous announcements of 50 MCZs (in 2013 and 2016). It is the third of three phases promised by the Government in order to fulfil the remit of the Marine and Coastal Access Act. Norfolk has its own MCZ, the Cromer Chalk Shoal Beds, designated in 2016.

Head of People and Wildlife at Norfolk Wildlife Trust, David North said:
“We welcome this announcement of further MCZ designations including four new sites in the North Sea. This is something for which Wildlife Trusts, including Norfolk Wildlife Trust, have campaigned over many years.

“Our North Sea wildlife faces many threats including pollution from plastics and the need to adapt to climate change. Norfolk’s MCZ, the Cromer Chalk Shoal Beds, is helping protect a key marine habitat. However for highly mobile North Sea wildlife, including seabirds and grey seals for which Norfolk holds important breeding populations, it is vital that action continues to restore the health of the wider North Sea, by reducing pollution and ensuring that activities, including fishing, are truly sustainable. Both wildlife and people depend on the health of our marine environment and the additional protection brought by these new MCZs will benefit both.”

The 41 new MCZs are special places and include cold water corals, forests of sea fans, rocky canyons and sandbanks – an astonishingly varied range of submerged landscapes which support the stunning diversity of marine life found in the UK. The four new sites within the North Sea region are: Berwick to St Marys, Holderness Offshore, Markham’s Triangle and Orford Inshore. All will contribute towards a network of areas which is urgently needed to ensure a healthy future for our seas.  

Joan Edwards, Director of Living Seas at The Wildlife Trusts, said:
“It’s fantastic news that now we have 91 Marine Conservation Zones – they will form a vital series of underwater habitats which can be nursed back to health. The Wildlife Trusts have been calling for the government to give real protection to a network of diverse sea-bed landscapes since 2009 and over 22,000 people joined our call for better protection of our seas during last summer’s consultation.  Huge thanks to everyone who has supported this change! Now we need to see good management of these special places to stop damaging activities such as beam-trawling or dredging for scallops and langoustines which harm fragile marine wildlife.”

After the first 50 MCZs were designated, The Wildlife Trusts launched a Wave of Support campaign to coincide with the public consultation on the third phase. More than 22,000 people joined our call for better protection of our seas in just six weeks in the summer of 2018. The Wildlife Trusts believe that the new total of 91 MCZs* are a great step forward – but now the focus must be on caring for these special places effectively so that our ocean wildlife has the best possible chance of recovery.
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