Welsh Government
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New powers to protect Welsh seas

The Welsh Assembly Government will today 16 September set out how it plans to use new powers to protect the seas around Wales by creating Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs).

Through the Marine and Coastal Access Bill, Welsh Ministers will have the ability to create these zones to protect nationally important habitats and species.

Speaking at the Wales Biodiversity Partnership conference, Environment Minister Jane Davidson will outline how the Assembly Government will create these MCZs through its new marine strategy ‘Protecting Welsh Seas’.

Ms Davidson said:

“Wales has a rich marine environment and people come from all over the world to enjoy our coast and waters. Protecting this environment is one of the biggest challenges we face. We want our seas to be clean, healthy and biologically diverse. They must be managed sensibly and responsibly for the sake of our economic, environmental and cultural wellbeing.

“Our coast and marine environment makes a significant contribution to our economy. It is estimated that the marine environment directly and indirectly supports 92,600 jobs in Wales, contributing £2.5 billion each year to the Welsh economy. We must make sure we cherish this environment and make sure it is in a healthy state for current and future generations.

“The UK has made an international commitment to create a coherent network of marine protected areas by 2012. Wales is already making a significant contribution to this goal through the number of existing protected sites that we have. These new powers to create Marine Conservation Zones will allow us to complete the journey.”

The new strategy, as well as underlining the Assembly Government’s ongoing commitment to managing Wales’ existing sites effectively, will establish 'The MCZ Project Wales' that will look into and recommend sites for designating as new Marine Conservation Zones.

Roger Thomas, Chief Executive of the Countryside Council for Wales, said:

“The marine environment around Wales is rich in biodiversity, supporting a variety of natural habitats. This environment is vitally important to people as well as wildlife - providing our food and recreational opportunities.

“Our marine environment has been heavily used over many decades. We warmly welcome the Assembly Government’s Strategy, which recognises the role of marine protected areas in safeguarding marine ecosystems. It provides real hope that this precious resource can become more resilient to pressures such as climate change and exploitation into the future.”

Related Links

The draft strategy outlines how we intend to enhance the existing protected sites.
A space that is recognised, dedicated and managed to achieve long-term nature conservation.

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