Stalked jellyfish, one of the species found in the Solent. Picture by Steve Trewhella.
A CAMPAIGN has been launched to encourage people to stand-up to support Marine Conservation Zones around the Isle of Wight.
Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust has created a "unique on-line resource" of information about proposed Marine Conservation Zones, it hopes will inspire people to step forward and support the protection of marine wildlife.
Last year 127 Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) in English and Welsh waters were recommended to the government for protection.
Nine of those proposed sites were within the Solent and around the Island, including Bembridge, Norris to Ryde, Yarmouth to Cowes, the Needles and St Catherine’s Point.
But the trust said there are indications the process has stalled and that come 2013 only a small proportion of the network of 127 sites will eventually be designated.
Trust head of marine conservation Jolyon Chesworth said: "We have some wonderful and fascinating marine life around our shores; chalk reefs encrusted with sponges and corals, underwater meadows of eelgrass, rare seaweed species and bizarre creatures such as seahorses, spoonworms and stalked jellyfish.
"Whilst the Government treads water, wildlife-rich areas remain vulnerable.
"If we are better able to visualise our local marine life, and understand what it means to the community, we are more likely to push for its protection.
"That is why our Friends of MCZs campaign is so important — everyone will be able to look for their local MCZ, find out what lives there and why it is precious, get updates of photographs and video we will be gathering and most importantly, become a friend and help us demonstrate to government that protecting our marine environment is just as important as protecting our land."
President of the Wildlife Trusts, Simon King, said: "We have reached crisis point for the health of our marine environment. We need to act now.
"The point is not to add a few more protected sites scattered randomly around our seas, nor is it simply to protect the rarest and most vulnerable of our species."
To find out more about the recommended Marine Conservation Zone, and sign up to be a friend, visit www.wildlifetrusts.org