Whilst WDC welcomes the Government’s announcement over the weekend to create 23 new Marine Conservation Zones, we remain critical of the decision not to include any sites that would protect species of whale, dolphin or porpoise.
Thirty species of whales, dolphins and porpoises (cetaceans) are known to occur in UK waters, twelve of which are resident seasonally or year-round in English waters, meaning that these waters are vital to them for breeding, feeding and other biologically important activities.
What is surprising is that the original consultation document states that ‘The Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 (the Act) requires government to establish a network of MPAs that protects habitats and species which are representative of the range of habitats and species in our seas’, yet none of the cetacean species living in UK waters have been included.
Originally, 37 sites were supposed to be consulted upon in April 2015 but, disappointingly, 14 sites were undemocratically dropped without proper consultation with the general public.
WDC’s Pine Eisfeld-Pierantonio says; “MPAs are an important tool in protecting critical habitats of wide ranging species like whales and dolphins. There is no doubt in my mind that the Government should be including these amazing and important creatures in designated protected areas in UK waters.”