Scientists urge government to protect our seas
Monday 22 April 2013
Eighty-six marine and conservation scientists from across the UK, including nine from the Zoological Society of London, have signed an open letter to the Prime Minister, David Cameron, calling on him to protect our marine environment.
The letter, led by the renowned marine biologist, Professor Callum Roberts, urges the government to reaffirm its commitment to establishing a comprehensive and world-class network of Marine Conservation Zones throughout UK waters.
Following an extensive two year process, costing over £8 million in tax-payers money and involving hundreds of stakeholders, 127 ‘recommended Marine Conservation Zones’ were identified. However, the government decided to consult on only 31 of these (less than a quarter), and has not yet set out a timetable to address the remaining 96 sites.
The scientists believe that these 31 areas are not sufficient to provide the protection and restoration required for our marine biodiversity; “Even if the 31 areas were to be established, they will fall far short of the original aims of the legislation and the government’s own guidance, and will not deliver the needed protection for marine life. This selective approach to implementation has thrown the process into confusion and disarray.”
Dr Heather Koldewey, ZSL’s Head of Global Conservation Programmes, and signatory to the letter said, “The UK had an opportunity to become a world leader in the protection of marine biodiversity. Instead, the government has decided to change the process, ignore thousands of opinions and spend more money to achieve very little. That could change if they simply followed the consensus for 127 MCZs achieved through the consultation.”
As a member of the Marine Reserves Coalition , ZSL responded to the government consultation on Marine Conservation Zones, which has now closed.
In line with the scientists’ open letter, ZSL believes that the UK government must do more if it is to deliver an ‘ecologically coherent network of marine protected areas’, and achieve its vision of “clean, healthy, safe, productive and biologically diverse oceans and seas.”