The Welsh Government has backed down on its highly controversial plans to introduce 10 Highly Protected Marine Conservation Zones (HPMCZs) off the coast of Wales.

The proposals had sparked outrage among a number of groups across Wales.  

The RYA was concerned that the proposals would severely limit the ability for people to go boating in whatever form which directly contradicted the Welsh Government’s ‘Creating an Active Wales’ strategy.

Good news for boating in Wales

Caroline Price RYA Planning and Environmental Manager: “This is good news for leisure boating. The impact of the proposed zones on the club network in North West Wales in particular could have led to a reduction in opportunities to go boating and therefore a reduction in boating itself”.  

 “It is also good news that the Welsh Government is prepared to go back to the drawing board and start again by looking at its existing 125 Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) to see if any additional changes can be made before looking at potentially creating additional zones”.  

Welsh Government to assess current Marine Protected Areas

The Natural Resources Minister Alun Davies has now commissioned an assessment of Wales’ current MPAs to identify if there are any gaps and what options might be appropriate to fill those gaps.  

The Welsh Government received 7,000 responses to its consultation containing “strongly held” views.

In response it announced a further period of work following the consultation to inform how they move ahead.

This was led by a Task and Finish Team, supported by a Stakeholder Focus Group, of which the RYA was a member.  

The RYA together with the Welsh Yachting Association have been in talks with the Welsh Government on this issue for some time and additionally have seats on the  Wales Coastal and Maritime Partnership (WCMP) which draws together industry and user representation on this matter  

In November last year the RYA gave evidence to the cross-party Assembly’s Environment and Sustainability Committee stating that the proposed HPMCZs could be detrimental for recreational boating across Wales with subsequent impacts on the coastal economy.  

We look forward to continuing to work with the Welsh Government as it examines its existing network of MPAs” concludes Caroline.

Read more information about Marine Conservation Zones in Wales.