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Natural England says it’s time to sink or swim to save our seas

On the fifth anniversary of Lundy - England’s only Marine Nature Reserve and ‘No Take Zone’ – Natural England has today (Wednesday 23 January) published the views of national and international marine experts and scientists who believe that political will and leadership is key to safeguarding life beneath our waves through a network of sites like Lundy.

Dr Helen Phillips, Chief Executive of Natural England, said: “It is clear that Marine Protected Areas work. The signs from Lundy on it’s fifth birthday are extremely encouraging and show the major contribution that these areas can make to the wildlife in our seas, however the ultimate success of these sites of conservation are inextricably linked to long-term funding and public support.

“England is fortunate to have such a rich marine heritage and it is vital that action is taken to improve the health of our coasts and seas for the benefit of wildlife and the communities whose livelihoods depend upon them.

“We look forward to a Marine Bill that delivers a network of Marine Protected Areas and therefore securing the long-term protection of our precious marine environment,” concluded Dr Phillips.

National and international marine experts met at Natural England’s MPA conference in October 2007 to discuss the way forward for a network of Marine Protected Areas. A summary of the views and agreed priorities has now been published. For example, the importance of political leadership in relation to the Marine Bill was highlighted in establishing the MPA network and political backing was seen as key to funding and delivering the MPA network. The report Towards a coherent network of Marine Protected Areas conference PDF 710 kb can be downloaded here.

Marine Facts and figures

  • A four-year monitoring programme has been undertaken in Lundy by Dr Miles Hoskin (Coastal and Marine Environmental Research), on behalf of Natural England. This research shows that Lobsters in particular are living it up - rapidly increasing in size and abundance within the reserve and for the first time it appears that the benefits of this are spreading to surrounding areas.
  • These important findings support evidence from other international Marine Protected Areas that have also seen the ‘spill over effect’ with scallop and haddock.
  • England has some of the finest marine wildlife in Europe, with dramatic underwater habitats and landscapes, and over 10,000 types of plant and animal. In England you are never more than 70 miles from the sea and we took 20 million seaside holidays in England in 2003. Natural England plans to raise awareness amongst the public of these amazing undersea landscapes which are currently out of sight and out of mind.
  • Seas around the UK provide over £500 million worth of commercial fish each year supporting an industry worth around £1 billion, but around 70% of fish stocks are over-fished and some fishing practices damage wildlife and habitats. Marine Protected Areas can help marine wildlife recover from damaging activities.

Notes for editors:

For interviews and photographs please contact the Natural England press office 0845 603 9953, out of hours 07970 098005 or email: press.office@naturalengland.org.uk

Natural England is responsible for the management of the Lundy Marine Nature Reserve, we employ two wardens in partnership with the Landmark Trust who oversee the management on the ground. Natural England regulates all activities (except fisheries and navigation) within the MNR and have bylaws protecting the marine wildlife.

Natural England works for people, places and nature to conserve and enhance biodiversity, landscapes and wildlife in rural, urban, coastal and marine areas. We conserve and enhance the natural environment for its intrinsic value, the wellbeing and enjoyment of people, and the economic prosperity it brings.

www.naturalengland.org.uk

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