Marine Protected Areas

Marine Protected Areas

(c) Caroline Weir

What is a Marine Protected Area?

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are similar to nature reserves on land and are parts of the sea where wildlife and habitats are protected by restricting damaging activities. They are key to the future health of our seas, their ecosystems and wildlife. They are a tried and tested means of conserving habitats and wildlife all over the world.

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust is backing a new national campaign – #WaveOfSupport – to give everyone across the country the chance to back 41 new Marine Conservation Zones and protect our part of the Blue Planet around the English coast. Recently, the government launched a consultation asking the public for their views about protecting a new group of Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) – areas at sea where wildlife is protected from damaging activities. 41 special places have been chosen for the public to comment on.

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What is their wider significance?

MPAs don’t just protect wildlife. They can have an influence beyond their boundaries, as growing wildlife populations spill out into the surrounding (non-protected) sea. In the UK there are several well-known examples of this including Lundy Island in the Bristol Channel. Here, lobsters protected from over-fishing are growing larger in size and increasing in number within the MPA. Over time these large lobsters have spilled over into neighbouring unprotected fishing grounds, enabling bigger catches and so generating greater profits for fishermen.

Benefits

If they are in the right place and part of a wider well-managed network of protected areas, MPAs can bring even greater benefits, improving the overall health of the marine environment and helping it recover from past impacts and withstand current pressures. To achieve this, MPA networks must protect not just rare and threatened wildlife, but the whole range of ‘typical’ habitats and wildlife found in healthy seas. For us in the UK, this includes habitats like our cold water reefs, seagrass meadows, kelp forests and sandy, gravel and muddy sea floors.

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust is backing a new national campaign – #WaveOfSupport – to give everyone across the country the chance to back 41 new Marine Conservation Zones and protect our part of the Blue Planet around the English coast. Recently, the government launched a consultation asking the public for their views about protecting a new group of Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) – areas at sea where wildlife is protected from damaging activities. 41 special places have been chosen for the public to comment on. You can sign the petition using the link below.

Add your support

The Trust has been advocating for the designation of more nature reserves at sea for over 8 years now and we will continue to do so to protect Yorkshire’s rich marine wildlife. You can learn more about MPAs and our work towards securing more of them on the North Seas Wildlife Trust website.

Marine Protected Area infographic