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How you can help preserve the shores of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight

PUBLISHED: 16:29 25 November 2014 | UPDATED: 16:29 25 November 2014

The main MCZs that need our help

The main MCZs that need our help

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The Wildlife Trust works tirelessly to protect our local and well-loved species inland, but what about those out on our beloved coastline? Kizzie Henderson explains why your help is needed to preserve the shores of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight

What is the best thing about living in the Hampshire? Many might say easy access to coastal areas, which is something that wildlife lovers would agree on. Unfortunately, our seas are suffering from overfishing, exploitation for resources and damage to natural habitats. With government commitments for protecting the sea yet to be fully met, urgent action is needed to turn our currently under-protected waters back into a healthy and sustainable environment.

In February of this year, the Government announced that six marine sites in the Hampshire and Isle of Wight region will go forward as candidates for designation as Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) in 2015.

Marine Conservation Zones are a new type of Marine Protected Area created by the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009. There are already sites in the Solent, the Solent Harbours and round the Isle of Wight which are protected by European law, designated for habitats and species which are important across the EU region. Marine Conservation Zones are designed to protect the important marine diversity in UK waters and provide an important route to the Trust’s vision, where our marine life is protected from the most damaging activities and allowed to recover from past declines.

The six sites were recommended for designation in 2013, but did not make it on to the first tranche of 27 sites designated last November. The sites were chosen from a longer list of 127 to make an ecologically coherent network across all English sea areas. It was also announced at the time that two further tranches of designations will take place over the next three years, with the first of those happening in early 2015.

Before the sites are put forward, the government wants to assess the levels of public support for all of the recommended MCZs. So we are now urging you to express your support by signing up to become a ‘friend’ of Marine Conservation Zones.

When signing up you can opt to ‘befriend’ one or all of 37 proposed areas, similar to becoming friends of local parks, historic buildings and community projects. All ‘friends’ will receive regular updates on the campaign from The Wildlife Trust, with opportunities to get involved and ways to help, such as writing to local MPs and the Prime Minister to press the need for protection and, ultimately, to respond to the public consultation, expected in early 2015.

The six sites are: The Needles, Offshore Overalls, Utopia, Bembridge, Norris to Ryde and Yarmouth to Cowes.

Tim Ferrero, Head of Marine Conservation at the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust said: “We have campaigned for over ten years for better protection of our local marine wildlife and yet there is still no guarantee that the zones will be allocated where we want them. We want as many people as possible to sign up to become a ‘friend’ of MCZs. This won’t cost anything but it will mean that you will be kept up to date with the latest information and progress of the campaign. It will also provide information to people who are more sceptical about the idea of protected zones fearing that they will mean ‘banning everything’. This is not the case and sustainable activities will continue in the zones.”

The Trust is hoping to inspire people to stand up for the wildlife which lives, feeds and finds sanctuary in the many different habitats in UK waters. These remain at risk until more areas offering effective protection are established.

To find out more about your local recommended Marine Conservation Zone, and sign up to be a Friend, visit www.wildlifetrusts.org/MCZfriends

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