Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall backs MCS in bid to get better protection for English seas
Celebrity chef and men in rubber will join charity’s march to Westminster to call for 127 Marine Conservation Zones
MCS has joined forces with Sea Life, BSAC and celebrity chef and Fish Fight campaigner, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, to march on Westminster to call for further commitment by Government in protecting the seas around the English coast.
The event is being run in association with Sea Life, whose UK aquaria house some of the largest collections of marine life in Europe. Sea Life visitors have signed an estimated 40,000 postcards in support of Marine Conservation Zones. The march is supported by the British Sub-Aqua Club (BSAC), with divers in full SCUBA kit who will be arriving in rigid inflatable boats at Westminster Bridge.
The Marine Conservation Society has organised the march, to be led by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall from the South Bank in London, over Westminster Bridge to the Houses of Parliament, where the chef and presenter of the Channel 4 Fish Fight series will address the rally. The event will take place on Monday 25th February at 12 noon.
MCS says this show of support for our seas is vital after the Government revealed it would only designate up to 31 Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) in English waters this year, rather than the 127 that conservationists and Government scientists told ministers were needed to create a comprehensive network of protection.
Hundreds of MCS, BSAC, Sea Life and Fish Fight supporters will take to the streets around Westminster to show the Government how strongly the general public feel about marine protection and the level of disappointment and frustration felt by those who value the sea.
MCS Biodiversity Policy Officer, Dr Jean-Luc Solandt says English seas have suffered decades of damage by human activities such as bottom trawling and dredging. “We need to protect our seas now. Over a million people took part in the process that resulted in the list of 127 recommended MCZs. It cost the British tax payer in excess of £8million. Thirty one is a start, but shows a lack of ambition for the responsible management of our seas. Government must make a firm commitment to designate these now, and the rest of the 127 zones in 2014.”
Sea Life Senior Marine Biologist, Rob Hicks, says it’s both sad and disappointing that it appears the Government is only likely to approve only 31 of the 127 recommended MCZs: “At Sea Life we see, in a microcosm, the amazing wildlife that inhabits our seas. To know that there are both sea creatures and habitats in English waters that are now at serious risk because of this decision is incredibly concerning. The evidence of dwindling catches, shrinking average sizes of those fish that are caught and disappearance of species like the undulate ray is sufficient in our view to justify action now. It may well be too late in four, five or ten year’s time!”
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is highlighting the need for better marine protection in the Fish Fight series, being shown on Channel 4. He says, “Marine protection must happen now - and not on a limited scale. I've seen in the Isle of Man and in Lyme Bay that MPAs are helping the seabed, helping fish and scallop stocks, and improving the lot of sustainable fishermen. The Government must take notice and implement 127 MCZs around England.”
People can register to take part in the march at www.mcsuk.org/mpa/march. If you can’t make the march, you can pledge your support for 127 MCZs or take part in the public consultation on marine protection at www.mcsuk.org/map/england.