COULD this be Blackpool’s newest attraction?
The resort could have its very own Barrier Reef if plans to set up marine conservation zones in the Irish Sea go ahead.
More than 120 zones were selected across the UK through consultation with more than a million interested parties.
And three of those would be based around the coast of Lancashire.
A Fylde Offshore zone would be based off the coast of Cleveleys, Blackpool and Lytham.
The other two zones would include the River Wyre and the coastline at Fleetwood and Preesall and the Ribble Estuary.
The zones were expected to be designated this year but the Government has stalled on any designation until 2013, citing a lack of evidence.
This week, the Lancashire Wildlife Trust launched a campaign to recruit ‘Friends of Marine Conservation Zones’.
It hopes to inspire residents to stand up for the extraordinary marine species and habitats in English and Welsh waters – particularly in the Irish Sea – and press the Government to designate all 127 marine conservation zones.
Simon King, president of The Wildlife Trust, said: “We have reached a crisis point for the health of our marine environment – we need to act now.
“The point is not to add a few more protected sites scattered randomly around our seas, nor is it simply to protect the rarest and most vulnerable of our species.
“The Marine Conservation Zone network represents a joined-up way of thinking – a way of balancing a natural credit account from which we have been drawing carelessly for decades and which now is in deep and dreadful debt.”
Lindsay Sullivan, Marine Conservation Officer for the North West Wildlife Trusts, said: “There are increasing demands being placed on our precious Irish Sea in what is actually a relatively small area.
“It is vital we set areas aside for wildlife now, before there is no space left.
“While the Government treads water, wildlife-rich areas in our oceans continue to suffer degradation.
“Many of us are passionate about our local wildlife hotspots on land, and vocal about protecting them.
“But we don’t often see what’s living below the surface of the Irish Sea.
“If we are better able to understand our local marine life, and understand what it means to the community, we are more likely to push for its protection.”
Sir David Attenborough, vice president of The Wildlife Trusts, added: “We have the first country-wide list of marine sites needing protection.
“It cost over £8m to draw up. I urge the Government to designate the full list of 127 sites now, for day by day the wildlife in these sites is being destroyed and damaged.
“Time is running out for us to save our fragile seas.”
For information visit: www.wildlifetrusts.org.