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.