The government has launched a call for evidence to help stop the impacts of human activity from damaging the marine environment.
The government has said that they are committed to restoring the marine environment for future generations and have said they will safeguard 50% of the UK and Overseas Territory waters by the end of next year.
These Highly Protected Marine Areas would be under the strongest form of marine protection and would build on the 220,000 square kilometers of protection areas already in place in the UK.
These areas are known as the ‘Blue-Belt’ and are already helping to protect species such as the short-snouted seahorse and stalked jellyfish, says the government.
At last week’s United Nations General Assembly, the UK is also leading a global alliance to drive urgent action to safeguard the world’s oceans and to protect its wildlife.
Today’s call for evidence is part of a six-month review led by ex-fisheries minister Richard Benyon MP, which has been asked to recommend whether and how Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs) could be introduced within English waters.
Mr. Benyon said: ‘We want to make sure we are doing the utmost to protect our oceans and this call for evidence will help us to evaluate whether, and where, we can go further to safeguard marine life.’
‘The views of those who use the seas will be at the heart of the review and we want to hear particularly from those with expertise on the aims, opportunities, and challenges of introducing Highly Protected Marine Areas in the UK.’
The feedback gathered by the call for evidence will inform the work of the independent panel, the review will conclude in early 2020, after which time the panel will make a recommendation to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).