On World Oceans Day, the Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, announced a new review to examine whether and how the strongest protections for areas of sea, known as Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs), could be introduced.
The HPMAs could close off specific areas to any human activity with the potential to cause harm. They would complement the existing network of Marine Conservation Zones.
The review, led by Richard Benyon MP, will be asked to establish an evidence-based process and criteria for selecting Highly Protected Marine Areas, and if supported by the evidence, recommend potential locations for pilot sites.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove said:
The UK is a global leader in the fight to protect our seas, but World Oceans Day is an important reminder that we need to safeguard the future prosperity and health of our ocean.
Last week we designated 41 new Marine Conservation Zones with an area almost eight times the size of Greater London, and our review into Highly Protected Marine Areas will help inform our next steps in the government’s work to expand and strengthen the UK’s Blue Belt to create richer habitats for marine life.
The UK Government currently has 175 Marine Protected Areas of different types & protections, spanning 32,000 square km and conserving 40% of English seas.