East Worthing and Shoreham MP Tim Loughton is backing a campaign by Sussex Wildlife Trust to protect the marine wildlife found off the Sussex coast.
A hundred years ago The Wildlife Trusts’ founder Charles Rothschild was the first person to champion the concept of nature reserves on land. He spent three years gathering information, looking for the ‘breeding-places of scarce creatures’, the ‘localities of scarce plants’ and areas of ‘geological interest’. He then came up with a list of 284 sites ‘worthy of preservation’.
A hundred years on, the first national network of potential marine protected areas has been identified: 127 Marine Conservation Zones in English and offshore Welsh waters have been recommended to the Government for protection. All were selected through consultation with more than one million stakeholders. The sites were due to be formally designated in 2012. But delays mean that only a small proportion of the network will be designated in 2013 and no timetable has been set for the rest of the sites.
To push forward designation of the entire network, The Wildlife Trusts are recruiting ‘Friends of Marine Conservation Zones’. Tim Loughton MP has signed up to become a ‘Friend’ of the Kingmere and Offshore Brighton MCZs.
The campaign is linked with a new online resource produced by The Wildlife Trusts - the first of its kind - providing details of locations, species and habitats for all 127 recommended MCZs. By creating accessible information about all 127 sites The Wildlife Trusts hope to inspire individuals to stand up for the extraordinary marine species and habitats in English and offshore Welsh waters.
Tim Loughton said, “100 years ago the idea of nature reserves on land was a new concept, yet now these reserves are treasured by local people. Protection of the marine environment is only just beginning to catch up with protection on land, but it is clear we need to act fast to give the marine environment the opportunity to recover from past declines and there are certainly a lot of wonderful habitats and sea life that need protecting in the Kingmere and Offshore Brighton MCZs.
While we may not always be able see what goes on below the surface of the sea, people do feel strongly about ensuring that our marine environment is healthy and productive.”