UK expands protected marine areas

Friday 7th June 2019 | Jake

The UK’s marine conservation zones, known as the ‘blue belt’, are set for an expansion that will see the network of protected marine areas equal to twice the size of England. The government has announced the creation of 41 new conservation zones, meaning Britain’s coast now has 355 marine protected areas constituting its blue belt.

Species including seahorses and mussels are among those to benefit from the extra protection. The management of each zone will differ, depending on the requirements of marine life and local people. Although many welcomed the expansion, Alec Taylor, the head of marine policy at WWF urged caution. “At the moment they [the planned expansion] are just empty words on a page. The UK is nearing 30% coverage of its waters protected, but these areas are poorly monitored and we have little evidence that wildlife is benefiting.”

UK marine life has suffered severely through overfishing, dredging and various other activities including pollution. The UK protects 30% of its ocean with these conservation zones, but the environment secretary, Michael Gove, admitted “we [the government] know there is more to do.”