Campaign for the designation of the Skomer Marine Nature Reserve as a Highly Protected Marine Conservation Zone
Most forms of fishing – commercial and recreational angling – continue in the Skomer MNR despite its nature reserve status.
We believe that the MNR should be protected from these, and all other exploitative activities, and designated as a Highly Protected Marine Conservation Zone. As well as protection for nature conservation, protection is also needed for scientific research and monitoring sites so that, with time, we can begin to discover what a unexploited, more natural, ecosystem is like. The experience of highly protected marine reserves worldwide suggests that populations of commercial shellfish species are also likely – but these would be a bonus.
The conservation benefits of Highly Protected Marine Reserves are summarised here.
We do not believe this is too much to ask for. It is nothing more than what is automatically expected in most terrestrial nature reserves. The area of Skomer MNR is a tiny fraction of Wales’ and the UK’s territorial waters – only 0.009% of the UK’s sea. At present there is NO fully protected marine area in Wales, and only one in the UK, a minute area off the east coast of Lundy Island – just 0.0001% of England’s territorial sea.
The UK’s legal provisions for protected marine areas are very weak, difficult to implement, and they protect fishing and other exploitative interests.
At its annual meeting in May 2002, the Skomer MNR Advisory Committee recommended that the establishment of all or part of the MNR as a no take zone should be investigated and developed.
After three years work, a proposal which would gradually move the Skomer MNR to an NTZ over a ten year time period, while protecting the interests of fishermen with a track record in the site, was placed before the South Wales Sea Fisheries Committee in 2005.
The proposed byelaw and the measures to protect local fishermen’s interests were widely circulated for consultation. As anticipated, there were objections from the fishing industry, mainly against closed areas on principle, but responses in favour of the byelaw outnumbered objections many times over. One of the strongest supportive responses was from Professor Callum Roberts, Professor of Marine Conservation at York University and one of the world’s most respected authorities on Marine Protected Areas; with his agreement, his letter of support is reproduced here.
The Committee voted by seven votes to five against any form of no-fishing zone in the MNR.
Supporters of the proposal were extremely disappointed by the rejection, and the lack of any follow up action to unblock the resulting stalemate, so a petition for the designation of the Skomer MNR as a Highly Protected Marine Reserve was begun. If you agree, please sign up here, and encourage others who care about protecting the marine environment to do so too.
If you’re not sure, please read the information on HPMRs on this website and at the links provided here. Hopefully this will be enough to convince you of the value and potential benefits of HPMRs, and to return here and give your support.
- Government inquiry into management of marine protected areas in Wales
- European Union abandons plan to “overhaul” flagship Birds and Babitats Directives following a huge public campaign
- Welsh Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs makes “inaccurate and misleading claims” about the sustainability of Welsh seafood.
- Welsh Government dismiss objections to further scallop dredging in Cardigan Bay
- Consultation on proposed Special Areas of Conservation for harbour porpoise
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