Government receives advice on possible management of each zone

A public consultation on the 127 proposed Marine Conservation Zones – coastal areas in which sailing or anchoring could be curtailed – will be opened in December this year.

The news comes as the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) and Natural England present their formal ‘Advice Package’ on the 127 recommended zones to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

The 127 proposed zones were unveiled in September 2011 and include many stretches of water in popular boating areas such as the Solent (including Newtown Creek, pictured), East Coast estuaries and around the Cornish coast.

Since then, JNCC and Natural England have assessed the ecological implications of the proposed zones. At the same time, economists have prepared socio-economic impact assessments for each zone, as well as for all the sites combined.

All of this is included in the Advice Package and will go towards aiding the Environment Minister make a final decision on the designation of MCZs next year.

The impact assessment includes the identification of activities that would need to be ‘managed’ in order for the proposed conservation objectives of the recommended sites to be achieved. It also identifies possible management measures, such as buoyage, no-anchoring areas and so on.

Between now and the end of the year, Defra will assess each component of

the Advice Package and will provide its own impact assessment.

A three-month public consultation will open in December 2012.

Following the consultation, it is anticipated that the Minister will select:
·      Sites that are backed by robust evidence, to designate in summer 2013
·      Sites where further evidence is required, to designate at a later stage
·      Sites that are not considered suitable to progress

Once

the first wave of MCZs is designated in summer 2013, JNCC and Natural

England will provide conservation advice packages for each site, to

help inform how these sites should be managed.

Management measures will

be proposed by the appropriate regulatory authority for each designated

MCZ and finalised following local consultations and input from sea

users and other interested parties.

The MCZ Advice Package is available to read on both JNCC and Natural England’s web sites:



http://jncc.defra.gov.uk/page-6228


http://www.naturalengland.org.uk/ourwork/marine/mpa/mcz/advice.aspx

For more, see the October issue of Yachting Monthly.