An Evidence based Approach Continues to be Critical to “Designating Marine Protected Areas for the Right Reasons”

17th January 2016 in MPAs

The NFFO has welcomed Defra’s continued measured approach to the designation of new Marine Conservation Zones.

An Evidence based Approach Continues to be Critical to “Designating Marine Protected Areas for the Right Reasons”

Barrie Deas, Chief Executive of the NFFO said:

“I am pleased that Defra has moved away the rushed time table that had characterised the early stages of planning for the network of Marine Conservation Zones.

Ultimately it’s the management measures to protect vulnerable features within MCZs that count and this will need to be based upon an effective evidence based approach. We have to find ways that provide adequate protection for features and habitats, whilst minimising their impact on fishing activities – remembering that these are peoples’ livelihoods we are talking about and that fishermen put food on the table.

Experience has shown that achieving the buy-in with people that rely on the local resources is critical to the success of MCZs, especially in times of constrained public finances when monitoring is necessarily limited.

A measured careful approach also limits the potential of the displacement of fishing and other activities that can actually do more harm than good by having higher environmental impacts elsewhere if site locations and management measures are not planned properly.

It’s for these reasons that government should continue to be cautious about what further sites it designates as part of the network.

There is one special area of concern in the Government’s announcement. We question the rationale for Special Areas of Conservation for harbour porpoise. The scientific evidence shows that populations of harbour porpoise already hold a favourable status and the general view is that these kind of sites can only provide very limited protection, if any for a species like porpoise that migrate across very large distances.

In such cases we have to ask: does this represent a good use of public finances when there are more pressing needs for finite government resources in sustainably managing our seas?”