Friday February 27th, 2009
ImageTwo years after a white paper was published by Defra, recommending a radical new approach to the protection and use of the marine environment in UK waters it would appear that some welcome decisions have been made. It would also seem that, for once, the government is willing to listen to the people that know and care.

Defra are seeking boaters to join a ‘steering group’ to help decide where Britain’s first marine Conservation Zones will be. It has already been decided that they will be located off the coast of South West England, a decision based on the fact that, amongst other things, approximately 50% of the UK's biodiversity is found in that particular marine environment.

With issues surrounding anchoring and travelling at speed of utmost concern it is only right that the boating and yachting fraternity should have their say. The first of several ‘steering groups’ to be set up around the UK, Finding Sanctuary, is seeking input from a wide cross section of ‘stake holders’.

Finding Sanctuary’s spokesman, Sir Harry Studholme, said, 'Steering Group representatives should have a high profile and excellent knowledge of the sector they are representing. They must also be willing to actively speak about the interests of their stakeholder group in discussions and engage positively in the process.'

The South Coast is the most logical starting point for the initiative for numerous reasons including:

England’s only Marine Nature reserve is located in the waters surrounding Lundy Island off the Cost of North Devon.

The Dorset and East Devon Jurassic Coast is a World heritage Site.

There are fourteen coast and marine Special Protection Areas located there.

It is home to 42% of England’s fishing operations

It is part of a ‘channel’ for basking sharks that stretches through the Irish Sea to the Isle of Man.

Other issues that will be investigated by the ‘steering groups’ are pollution caused by pleasure boats and commercial vessels, the effect of climate change to the area and the threat by sea fisheries to marine population.

Anyone wishing to put their views forward should do so before March 6th by contacting Joana Doyle on 01392 878328 or by email - Joana.Doyle@southwestfoodanddrink.com
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