Marine Conservation Society
Skomer Marine Nature Reserve

Wales Marine Conservation Zone project – Skomer MNR does need your help

The first round of consultation on the Wales Marine Conservation Zone project has been launched here.  It seeks views and information on the 10 potential site options that have been identified.

Skomer MNR is on the list – that’s the good news.  But, the proposed boundary for the new MCZ encompasses about a third less area than the existing MNR.

It is critical that the Skomer MNR stays on the list of sites for proposed for designation as a highly protected MCZ.  It is also essential that we send the message that loosing a third of the existing MNR area from HPMCZ would be unacceptable since this would undo the last 20 years of successful protection.

There hasn’t been time to look at the consultation documents in detail yet, but it is already clear that it will be important to read all the relevant parts of the documents to avoid jumping to any wrong conclusions.  In particular, for example, the tables of potentially damaging activities for each proposed site are very misleading.  Diving is included in these tables even though the annexes make it clear that typical levels of recreational diving would not be considered a threat.   However, a superficial glance at the document risks creating an immediate impression that diving could be limited in some areas, even though there is no evidence whatsoever that recreational diving is an environmental threat.  It is hard not to jump to conclusions, but we must wonder if this inclusion of diving on the list of potentially damaging activities is a response to previous lobbying by commercial fishing interests who have previously demanded banning of recreational diving if fishing is excluded from highly protected MCZs.

The Skomer MNR Advisory Committee is due to meet on 10 May to consider the consultation document.  As well as making your own response, please ensure that the Committee member that represents your interests is aware of your support.  Members of the Committee are listed in the minutes here.  If you are do not know how to contact them, please send a message via the contacts page and it will be passed to the appropriate member.

More information on the consultation and advice on the key issues that need to be included in responses will be posted here as soon as possible.  Please watch this space.

Everyone that supports the protection of Skomer MNR, or any other of the proposed sites, are encouraged to respond individually to the consultation – the more supportive responses that the Welsh Government receive the better, numbers of individual responses as opposed to petitions and lists of names really do matter – but it will be important to respond in a considered and informed way, not as a knee-jerk.  Be assured, socio-economic self-interests will be responding with objections to the proposals – we must not let those self-interests derail an important and necessary conservation process.

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