Author Erin Pettifer
Theres been some extremely worrying news this week and its vital we take action now to protest in time. Our long-awaited network of marine protected areas, promised by Government for 2012, is in danger!
After years of campaigning the Government finally promised to establish a network of protection around our coasts. Over the last two years consultation with more than one million stakeholders resulted in the identification of 127 recommended sites around Englands coasts. This includes 14 important sites off Sussex. These areas are precious and must be protected.
The results of the Marine Conservation Societys Your Seas Your Voice campaign, where over 22,000 members of the public voted for protection of places important to them, shows just how precious they are to us, our Beachy Head West site, with its highly diverse chalk gullies and ridges (the best in the south east!), got the second highest amount of votes for it, and also the least amount of votes against it, making it the overall WINNER!!
There is now concern that only a fraction of these vital sites will be designated. This would result in a much smaller and less effective network of protected sites, leaving vulnerable and precious areas unprotected.
This network of sites is essential for the health and future productivity of our marine environment. For the Government to lose its direction in the final stages and propose to over-ride the recommendations of local stakeholders is shocking.
If youre reading this blog and are shocked too, I urge you to email Richard Benyon, our Minister for the Natural Environment and Fisheries, and ask Government to create the proposed network of 127 sites in England. If wanted, The Wildlife Trusts have produced some guidance on writing to the Minister, which can be found at www.wildlifetrusts.org/saveourmczs.
For further information on the recommended sites off Sussex see www.balancedseas.org.