Marine Reserves Now!
Urgent action is needed now to save our seas
The Co-operative group and Marine Conservation Society recently launched its “Marine Reserves Now “ campaign. The two groups hope to put pressure on the government to tackle the problem of unsustainable fishing around Britain's coasts. To help the marine environment recover from overfishing and habitat destruction they want to see 30% of the seas around Britain become marine reserves by 2020.
A UK Marine Bill was announced in December's Queens Speech which would see the introduction of Marine Conservation Zones. However campaigners argue that the legislation in its present form is weak. They want to see a timetable for its introduction and a guarantee on the level of protection they would receive. Campaigners are also calling for 30% of UK waters to be designated as Highly Protected Marine Reserves by 2020 with interim targets of 10% by 2010 and 15% by 2015. The Co-op group is currently funding research by the Marine Stewardship Council to find high value sites for inclusion within the marine reserves.
According to research by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, 22 species in UK waters are facing extinction with once common species such as Skate and Halibut now listed as critically endangered. Only eight of the 47 fish stocks found around the British Isles remain in a healthy state. Marine habitats and fish stocks continue to be damaged by destructive fishing techniques, e.g. it has been estimated that for every 1kg of North Sea Sole caught by beam trawl, up to 14kg of other seabed animals are killed.
Dr Jean-Luc Solandt from the MCS said, “We have dithered while Rome burns.”
The campaigners are now urging the general public to email their MP and the Fisheries Minister Huw Irranca-Davies via their new website www.marinereservesnow.org.uk/
to call for a strong Marine Bill and ask for 30% of UK waters to be designated as highly protected marine reserves.