Make sure your area is protected

Boaters in the South West can get involved in planning Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs).

The MCZs are areas to be designated as no-go zones for boats in order to protect the marine and coastal environment.

Tom Hooper, of project organiser Finding Sanctuary, says: “We are planning Marine Conservation Zones from the bottom up – by working closely with people who use the sea.

“Our Interactive Map will help us to do this, by encouraging public participation at an unprecedented level.

“The Interactive Map lets you create a map showing the sea areas you use and what you know about those areas. For example, if you are a diver, you can map your dive sites and what species you know occur at those sites.”

The information that sea users contribute through Finding Sanctuary’s Interactive Map will help to determine the best locations for MCZs.

Finding Sanctuary’s stated aim is to design the MCZs so that they cause the least disturbance to people who use the sea, and have the most benefits for conservation.

Tom continues: “Finding Sanctuary’s Interactive Map gives everyone with an interest in the sea the opportunity to be involved in shaping the Marine Conservation Zone network.

“We want to show that it is possible to protect the marine environment, through a process that represents the interests of a wide range of stakeholders.

“As we gather more information, it will be added to the Interactive Map for you to explore. Already it allows you to investigate where different habitats occur, and the pattern of use by inshore fishermen. As more people contribute information through the Interactive Map, you will be able to view where other recreational and commercial activities take place around the coast. The more people that use the Interactive Map, the better Marine Conservation Zones can be planned.”

To use the Interactive Map to explore your area and share your information visit www.finding-sanctuary.org and follow the links to ‘Interactive Map’.