Plaice on seabed - photo by Rohan Holt
Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are sites in which certain human activities are restricted. They are a tried and tested means of safeguarding important marine habitats and wildlife.
For over a decade, The Wildlife Trusts have campaigned with other environmental organisations in the UK for new laws to provide better protection for marine habitats and wildlife. As a result, the ground-breaking Marine and Coastal Access Act (Marine Act) was introduced in November 2009, providing UK Government with the tools needed to revolutionise the management of our marine environment. Wildlife Trusts Wales are calling for the Marine Act to be effectively implemented in Wales, and the opportunities provided by the Act seized to ensure real benefits for biodiversity around the Welsh coast.
One of the most important and exciting aspects of the Marine Act is the creation of a network of MPAs (named Marine Conservation Zones under the Marine Act) throughout UK seas. MPAs protect the wildlife within their boundaries and allow nature to recover and thrive. In many cases, they can also have an influence beyond their boundaries, as burgeoning wildlife populations spill out into the surrounding sea.
Carefully designed and well-managed networks of MPAs can boost the health of the marine environment as a whole, helping it recover from past impacts and enabling it to sustain current pressures. MPAs are at the heart of marine nature conservation and essential for the sustainable management of the UK’s marine area. That is why The Wildlife Trusts regard MPAs as the bedrock of Living Seas.