An area almost eight times the size of Greater London is being set aside for marine conservation in a highly positive move for ocean protection. The UK government has created 31 new marine conservation zones, bringing the total protected marine habitat to around 30% of the country’s ocean.
Whilst England’s “blue belt” was already one of the most extensive of European nations, the latest expansion of 12,000 square kilometres is the biggest to date. Some of the special species that will benefit from the new protections include the short-snouted seahorse, the stalked jellyfish, the ocean quahog, ross worm reefs and blue mussel beds, all of which are under various levels of threat from habitat loss.
Environment secretary Michael Gove said the new conservation zones were helping to establish the UK as a global leader in marine conservation.
“Establishing this latest round of marine conservation zones in this year of green action is another big step in the right direction, extending our blue belt to safeguard precious and diverse sea life for future generations to come,” Gove told The Guardian.
The UK now has 355 Marine Protected Areas of all types (including some “no-take” zones preventing all fishing) covering an area of 220,000 square kilometres. To put that into context, it’s an area almost twice the size of England.
- If you’re looking to ensure you only purchase sustainable seafood, check out Australia’s Sustainable Seafood Guide.
- Marine plastic pollution is one of the biggest threats to large oceanic animals. Check out RecyclingNearYou to find out how to dispose of your plastic waste responsibly.
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