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Next steps for Marine Conservation Zones
The Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) and Natural England have presented the formal Advice Package on 127 recommended Marine Conservation Zones to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).
This advice marks the latest step towards the Government’s objective to create a well-managed network of Marine Protected Areas to help protect the range of habitats and species in our seas by the end of 2016. The Advice Package is being provided to Defra to support the decisions the Environment Minister will make on the designation of MCZs after a formal public consultation is held (the consultation will start in December 2012).
The process for making recommendations on where MCZs could be located has been unique, since sea users have been at the centre of it. For two years, four regional MCZ projects have worked extensively with specially formed groups of regional stakeholders involving representatives of different organisations, regulators, interest groups and individuals whose activities might be affected by MCZs. Balanced Seas represented the south-east; Finding Sanctuary the south-west; Irish Seas Conservation Zones the Irish Sea; and Net Gain represented the North Sea. These four regional MCZ projects submitted their final recommendations to JNCC and Natural England in September 2011.
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