A new wave of protection announced for Lancashire’s seas

Urchins and brittle stars  Picture credit: Paul Naylor
Urchins and brittle stars Picture credit: Paul Naylor
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Rare creatures will be protected in Lancashire’s estuaries, which have become part of a network of wildlife havens that will surround the UK.

Endangered fish, ancient clams, urchins and anemones will benefit as three estuaries become Marine Conservation Zones, after being designated by Defra.

A Government consultation last summer saw 1,800 people from across the North West calling for greater protection in the Irish Sea. There are already 50 MCZs

around the UK and four in the Irish Sea, including the Fylde MCZ, 100 square miles off Blackpool.

Today, Defra announced that there would be another 41 zones designated, including six in the Irish Sea.

In Lancashire, the Ribble, Wyre and Lune estuaries have all received a new level of protection as MCZs.

And it sparked delight among the Wildlife Trust officers and volunteers who have fought so hard to protect these vital areas of the Irish Sea.

Dr Emily Baxter, senior marine conservation officer at the North West Wildlife Trusts, says: “We are particularly excited to see that the estuaries have been

designated as MCZs.

"These are vital sites for the protection and recovery of some of our secret species – the European smelt or cucumber fish as it is known because of

its distinctive cucumber-like smell.

“These little-known fish have been lost from many estuaries across England and Scotland but important populations still remain. Protection and conservation of

important spawning and nursery habitats could help them thrive again.”

The Lancashire estuaries are part of six new MCZs in the Irish Sea, including two off the Cumbria coast and two to the west of the Isle of Man. It brings the total of zones

in the Irish Sea to 10.

The Wildlife Trusts Director of Living Seas at The Wildlife Trusts, Joan Edwards said: “We’ve been calling for the Government to give real protection to a connected

network of diverse range of undersea landscapes and species since 2009. We need to restore the seabed that has been ravaged over the past century and allow

fragile marine life to recover – and this can only be done with good management.

“Without these astonishing undersea landscapes there simply wouldn't be any fish, let alone fantastic jewel anemones, seahorses, dolphins and all the other wild and

extraordinary creatures which are part of a healthy marine ecosystem.”

The Wildlife Trusts believe that today’s news is a big step in the right direction for England’s seas. Proper protection of these sites after designation is needed through

the implantation of management to give our seas a real opportunity to recover.