Politicians all at sea

Let’s start at home – for we English anyway.

Kittiwakes will benefit from MCZs. Photo: Oscar Dewhurst

On Friday, a consultation closes on whether the government should go ahead with a further tranche of designation of Marine Conservation Zones.  And the answer is ‘they should’.

The UK Marine and Coastal Planning Act is five and a half years old.  Under its provisions Marine  Conservation Zones should be set up.  The original proposal, after lots of chat and bringing information together, was that there should be 127 MCZs around the coast of England.  The coalition government has managed to designate a first tranche (where and when did that word enter nature conservation, I wonder?) of 27 MCZs in its five years in impotence (you’d hardly want to call it ‘power’ would you?). This is pathetic.  At this rate it would take 25 years to get them all done.

But the government is consulting on the matter and has suggested that it might get around to designating another 23 such sites if everyone shows enthusiasm for the idea.  The easiest way for you to raise your voice on this matter is probably to go through the Wildlife Trusts’ website. Please do so. this is important stuff which will help give the marine environment some sort of the same sort of protection that has been long standard on land. It’s just catching up really.

By Sean O'Flaherty (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Sean O’Flaherty (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons
And now let us turn our eyes to the far flung UK Overseas Territories – many of them are relatively small dots in relatively big oceans. It is becoming traditional for outgoing governments to pull out a Marine Protected Area from the hat as a general election approaches; Labour did it with the Chagos Archipelago and the coalition government have done it with Pitcairn. Hooray!

The Conservative Manifesto promised more MPAs, a Blue Belt, around UKOTs and mentioned Ascension Island in particular. Now Labour, having been pretty dismissive on much of the natural environment in their manifesto, has brought out a Green Plan which goes further than the Conservatives and mentions action around Ascension, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. It’s good to see that the two ‘main’ political parties are now competing a little on who can say they will do the most.  The Green Party also has good things to say on this issue.

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