Five highly protected marine areas established in English waters | keep

The Guardian has learned that five Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs) will be established this week by the government to ban all fishing and rebuild the sea.

A new generation of marine nature reserves, governed by stricter regulations to allow for the recovery of mortal marine life, are being established near the Lindisfarne Coast in Northumberland and in Allonby Bay, Cumbria, and at three offshore sites, two in the North Sea and one at Dolphin Head in the Channel.

The five sites in the pilot project are expected to pave the way fully HPMA The status of some or all of the English sites in 2023 after consultation. Separately, Scotland is now fully or fully committed to Highly protected areas across 10% of its waters.

Roughly a quarter of British territorial waters are covered by marine protected areas, but environmentalists criticize them as “paper gardens” because there are too few restrictions on fishing and industrial activities such as offshore wind farm cables. In 2020, the Guardian revealed how More than 97% of the reserves They were still dredged and bottom trawled – the most harmful type of fishing that disables and destroys much of the marine life on the sea floor.

HPMA areas are “no-go” (NTZ) fishing areas, while a few small NTZs have already been established including one Lundy In the Bristol Channel and A community led community off the island of Arran In Scotland, such areas are usually quite controversial for fishermen.

a map

But research shows that Arran NTZ led to an “indirect” effect with More, the largest lobsters that poachers catch Near the exclusion zone, which serves as a nursery for the rapid recovery of marine life.

Environment Minister Rebecca Bowe said: “Highly protected marine areas will provide the highest levels of protection in our seas. A wide range of valuable habitats and species will help to fully recover, enhancing the resilience of our ecosystem and allowing the marine environment to thrive.

“As demands on our oceans grow, it is more important than ever that we take decisive action to protect nature while ensuring that we continue to meet the sustainable needs of those who depend on our seas.”

Joanne Edwards, Director of Policy at wild animals The Trusts said: “Protecting large swaths of our marine environment is an important part of addressing the nature and climate crises. We welcome today’s announcement that will protect vital wildlife strongholds and end harmful activities such as bottom trawling in these areas.

“This, however, is just the beginning. We want to see an entire network of highly protected marine areas to help ocean habitats recover. In addition to providing a much-needed boost to wildlife, fishermen will also benefit from the spread of fish into surrounding waters, helping to recreate the seas.” depleted.”

Kristen Carter, RSPB’s Principal Policy (Marine) Officer, said the charity was supporting the highly protected sites but that it had to be presented alongside better fisheries regulations and a comprehensive plan for all British waters to restore marine life.

“It’s an incredibly positive step in the right direction,” she said. “We urgently need to protect more marine wildlife but these areas are still very small and we need to manage and monitor them on a larger scale. More than 90% of marine protected areas are still exposed to highly destructive fishing activities.

“As this consultation proposes new protected areas in the Irish Sea and the North Sea, a strategic approach is sorely needed to look at the broader regional areas and manage the seas as a whole, and to consider how to spatially plan our seas effectively and how we are taking measures to address biodiversity degradation and climate mitigation together. “

HPMAs have not yet been established around the southwest coast of England But sources at the Ministry of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs say the sites are under study, with the government keen to strike a balance between environmental, social and economic factors.

The five HPMA regions cover a mix of marine habitats including tidal mudflats, kelp forests, and offshore rocky reef habitats.

The three marine sites also include ‘blue carbon’ areas, which are important in sequestering and storing carbon in the atmosphere, which also supports a range of mobile species including marine mammals and fish species of commercial importance.

On Monday, wildlife activists criticized the government for the government Failed to implement a wide range of promised policies To promote England’s biodiversity, including nature-friendly farming, the use of peat and pesticides, the reintroduction of beavers and other lost species, and the protection of rare marine life.

Highly protected marine areas in English waters

Alunby Bay

Along the coast on the English side of the Solway Firth in the Irish Sea, extending from the intertidal zone far from shore.

home: Large areas of biogenic reefs, including blue mussels and the best example of a Sabellaria reef in the UK. The proposed site contains a large stock of blue carbon and provides protection from coastal erosion.

OceanAn important land for spawning sea rays and sea bass. Land puppy for port porpoise.

inner silver pit

South North Sea, approximately 16 miles off the coast of Lincolnshire at Thedtlethorpe.

home: A unique glacier valley with deep water (up to about 100 metres) geological features in a very shallow area of ​​the sea.

Ocean: a breeding ground for commercially important fish species, and also supports cetaceans and seabirds.

Dolphin Head

Thirty-two nautical miles from the coast of Sussex in the Channel.

homeThe sea floor supports communities of benthic (bottom-dwelling) species and Vital reefsfrom the sea floor and created by organisms such as honeycomb worms or tube worms.

Ocean: The waters that are productive and rich in fish attract seabirds and cetaceans.

north– East of Farnes

North North Sea

home: subtidal sediments.

Ocean: Sediments are important for marine oceans, marine pens, and communities of burrowing megafauna, anemones, worms, mollusks, echinoderms, and fish. Dolphins, whales, and porpoises use the wider area.


Beachfront location off the north coast of Northumberland

home: salt marshes, beaches, cliffs, dunes and islands.

Ocean: This area supports important breeding colonies of seabirds such as terns, auks, and guillemots, as well as seals.