Fish stock zone woes

A map of the proposed Marine Conservation Zones off the Fylde coast.
A map of the proposed Marine Conservation Zones off the Fylde coast.
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A CAMPAIGN to protect vast areas of the Irish Sea and Wyre and Ribble Estuaries will continue despite an apparent setback.

The government has announced it plans to create less than 25 per cent of proposed Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) around the UK’s coastline.

The MCZs are intended to protect and preserve marine life damaged by over-fishing.

A two-year study by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) finding coastal seas need to be protected to help marine life recover from decades of unsustainable use.

But the government has chosen only Fylde Offshore of the four “nature reserves” recommended in the Irish Sea, including Wyre Estuary, Ribble Estuary and Sefton Coast.

David McGrath, Sustainability Manager at the Solaris Centre in South Beach, said: “It’s absolutely dreadful. I’m not happy with the government for bottling it, it’s very poor.”

The announcement that 31 of the proposed 127 MCZs are to be designated is part of a long consultation by DEFRA.

Conservationists said they will continue the fight to save the seas and will respond to the latest part of the consultation by the end of January.

David Dunlop, Living Seas Champion at Lancashire Wildlife Trust, said: “We will respond to the consultation and point out they’ve effectively gone back on their guidance.”

The Wildlife Trust feel the Government have “moved the goalposts” by asking for more information on top of what has already been submitted to the consultation.

Sea Life Centre Blackpool had also backed the campaign, Petition Fish, asking customers to support the MCZs.

General manager Jenn Newton said: “This news has come as a bit of a body blow. Sea Life supports the view that only the approval of all 127 proposed protected zones will cover enough of our coastal waters to give rapidly diminishing fish stocks a realistic chance of recovery.”

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