The first progress report on potential areas for south west MCZs is available to download

A steering group to help decide where the first Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) will be located in south west England has delivered its first report.

The area under scrutiny runs from Bristol around the south west coast to Poole and identifies possible sites for seafloor and water column protection measures. The key places mentioned are Padstow, Newquay, Falmouth, Salcombe and Dartmouth.

But Finding Sanctuary, the organisation responsible for the report, has stressed that it is a merely a snapshot of potential areas for consideration and should be looked at in the correct context.

Tom Hooper, the Project Manager of Finding Sanctuary, said, “This report is not laying down firm recommendations for Marine Conservation Zones – instead it suggests focus areas and possible building blocks that represent a starting point for discussion between our Steering Group, its working groups and local groups.”

“The areas we have highlighted can be deleted, altered or moved and represent a far greater “footprint” than that needed to meet the criteria we have been set.”

This report is the first of three which will be delivered the Science Advisory Panel, an independent body comprised of expert marine scientists set up to offer objective advice on the proposals to the steering group and government ministers.

So far more than 150,000 West Country water users have taken part in Finding Sanctuary’s research into the stakeholder activities in the region.

That data is now being used by a 41 member steering group – made up of fishermen, recreational sea users, scientists, representatives of industry and other stakeholders – to decide where in the south-west to locate MCZs.

The group’s final recommendations will be presented to the government in June next year.  Following that DEFRA will hold a public consultation on the proposed MCZs.

The concern is that boating activities like anchoring and travelling at speed might be restricted in any MCZs that are designated. If people have suggestions or views they would like taken into account during the
planning phase, they should contact their representative on the relevant Local Group or the Steering Group.

The progress report, including maps, can be downloaded under progroess reports from the Finding Sanctuary website.