The Benyon review of Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs) is published by Defra today. The Wildlife Trusts back its recommendations that HPMAs should be an essential part of the UK network for protection and recovery of the marine environment, and the government should introduce HPMAs within existing protected areas.
Existing Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are limited in their ability to restore habitats and wildlife because their remit only extends as far as maintaining the status quo. In these areas only some of the most damaging activities are prevented and even then, only in some locations. Whereas in Highly Protected Marine Areas, all damaging activities - including fishing, dredging, construction and sea angling - would be banned. This new type of designation means that nature could properly recover. HPMAs could be monitored to allow us to understand what a thriving seabed and restored marine life really means, and they could set a bar against which other sorts of protected areas could be measured.
The review is published on World Oceans Day by an independent panel of members from academia, industry and conservation backgrounds and chaired by former MP and Fisheries Minister Richard Benyon. The Wildlife Trusts believe that there is an overwhelming case for HPMAs across our seas, and are calling for an ambitious HPMA delivery plan within a year.
The Wildlife Trusts believe that HPMAs should be designated in each regional sea, in both inshore and offshore English waters, encompassing a range of habitats so that experts can study how recovery works in different ecosystems.
Bex Lynam, our North Sea Marine Advocacy Officer, says:
“We are so lucky to have such wonderful marine wildlife in Yorkshire, but the protection much of our seas currently have is not strong enough and so much of that wildlife is suffering. Highly Protected Marine Areas offer the highest level of protection, allowing us to put tougher measures in place to protect special places.
By banning the damaging activities that have decimated our wildlife for years, we can give the marine environment a chance to recover. HPMAs will also give us a measure of what recovery could look like and help to mitigate the effects of the climate emergency."
For more information on Highly Protected Marine Areas, The Wildlife Trusts have released more detail and further resources.