Marine Protected Areas

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 4th November 2019.

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Photo of Jonathan Lord Jonathan Lord Conservative, Woking

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent steps she has taken to expand the size of the Blue Belt.

Photo of George Eustice George Eustice The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The Government is looking at whether Highly Protected Marine Areas, where all damaging human activities are prohibited, could enhance the blue belt within the Secretary of State Waters. It has commissioned an independent review, led by Richard Benyon MP, to advise whether and how such sites could be introduced. The review will report in early 2020.

On 31 May 2019, we announced the designation of the third tranche of 41 Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) in English waters and Northern Ireland offshore waters. Designating these MCZs expanded the UK’s Blue Belt by almost 12,000 km2 and essentially completes our contribution to the international ecologically-coherent network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in terms of habitat and species representation. The UK now has 355 MPAs of different types protecting 25% of UK waters.

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