Why Marine Protected Areas are important
2 minute read
Marine Protected Areas, like national parks and nature reserves on land, are set up to look after particular animals, plants and habitats at sea.
How they work
Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are a globally recognised approach to halting biodiversity loss in our ocean and encouraging the recovery of marine wildlife and their habitats.
These sites can also safeguard and recover important 'blue carbon' habitats - those that absorb and store carbon - and help in our fight against climate change.
Protection of these areas takes many forms though most are designed to protect the seabed and the species and habitats that typically or naturally colonise them.
Crab on Maerl, Porthkerris, Cornwall
Credit: Kirsty Andrews
The road to recovery
Our MPAs are not only vast in number - there are currently 358 across UK seas – but also in scale, with 36% of UK waters now in designated protected areas.
Currently, many of the UK's MPAs are dubbed 'paper parks': their protections are little more than lines on a map. For these sites to be truly effective, they must be properly managed. This can mean banning damaging human activity from certain sites, like bottom trawling vital seabed habitats. We need governments to lead with proper regulation, controls, enforcement and monitoring.
Credit: enrapture captivating media
Real, meaningful management has been put in place for MPAs including Falmouth, Cawsand Bay, Strangford Lough, Arran, Firth of Lorn and Loch Creran, with fantastic results for people and planet.
We're calling for at least 30% of the ocean to be highly or fully protected by 2030 - to give our seas the protection they need and deserve in order to recover.
What we're doing
Credit: Divedog via Shutterstock
Credit: Peter Bardsley
Credit: Kirsty Andrews
We work alongside communities, with devolved governments and local regulators to make sure that any management measures put in place work for everyone.
You can see some examples of what we're doing, and who we work with below:
- Campaigning for a world-first protected area for basking sharks and minke whale in the Sea of Hebrides
- Working with boat users and the local community to save the seagrass meadows of Plymouth
- Collaborating with Glenmorangie Whisky and Heriot-Watt to reintroduce oysters to the Dornoch Firth
- Helping kelp on the Sussex coast with the local community and fellow environmental organisations...and Sir David Attenborough!