The four English Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ) projects have now submitted their final recommendations for MCZs and Reference Areas (RA) to Natural England and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC).

The reports containing the final recommendations represent the end of more than two years of intensive work with stakeholders to identify areas around England which should be considered for MCZ or RA designation in order to provide some protection to the resident flora and fauna.

The regional project teams have worked with stakeholder groups comprised of regional representatives from the fishing industry, conservation organisations, recreational boating – the RYA, aquaculture, MOD and many others. They have been supported by local representatives who have fed in local information and knowledge throughout the process.

The recommendations do not propose what management measures may be best suited to any particular zone in order to provide protection to the species and habitats. Likely management measures have been discussed by stakeholders, including relevant enforcement authorities such as the IFCAs and MMO.

These likely management measures have been developed for use in the Impact Assessment, but more definitive management measures will come later in the process as the recommended MCZs and RAs work their way through Government leading to the consultation.

Next stages

The reports will now be considered by Natural England and the JNCC over the coming months and they will submit a final combined list of recommended sites in England to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) later this year.

Ministers will then consider the proposals and advice from Natural England and JNCC and make a decision on which sites should be subject to a formal public consultation process planned for spring 2012.

You can read the reports by following the links below:
Finding Sanctuary South West www.finding-sanctuary.org
Balanced Seas South East www.balancedseas.org
Net Gain North East www.netgainmcz.org
Irish Sea Conservation Zones Irish Sea www.irishseaconservation.org.uk