Views wanted on plan to turn IW sites into Utopia

By Martin Neville

Sunday, March 9, 2014

 

Views wanted on plan to turn IW sites into Utopia

Map of the Marine Conservation Zones.

SIX marine sites off the Island’s coast could be given special protection.

Marine Conservation Zones (MCZ) restrict fishing and other activity in areas considered to be important marine habits.

A list of 37 sites announced by Defra last week as part of a second tranche of potential designations for 2015, includes areas off The Needles and Bembridge and stretches between Yarmouth and Cowes, and Norris, near East Cowes, and Ryde.

Offshore sites known as Utopia, to the east of the Island, and Offshore Overfalls, to the south east, are also being considered.

The sites were recommended for designation in 2013 but did not make it on to the first set of 27 sites designated last November.

The Hampshire and IW Wildlife Trust said designation of the sites would ensure protection for important and nationally rare species like native oysters, seahorses, stalked jellyfish and mantis shrimps and for habitats like seagrass beds and marine reefs.

Designation would not, however, stop sustainable activities from taking place, the trust said.

Tim Ferrero, head of of marine conservation, said: "There are already sites in The Solent, the Solent harbours and around the IW which are protected under European law but these were designated for habitats and species important across the EU region.

"MCZs are designed to protect our nationally important marine diversity and provide an important route to achieving the trust’s vision for Living Seas, where our marine wildlife is protected from the most damaging activities and allowed to recover from past declines."

Public consultation will start in 2015 and for more information visit www.wildlifetrusts.org/MCZmap

Reporter: martinn@iwcpmail.co.uk

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