Beachy Head seas will be protected as part of new ‘Blue Belt’ conserving the oceans

South Downs Way Beachy Head PPP-190523-101928003
South Downs Way Beachy Head PPP-190523-101928003

Beachy Head is one of seven new ‘Blue Belt’ marine conservation zones created across the East of England today (May 31).

More than 1,089 square kilometres of sea will be protected as part of the new drive to give rare species a better chance of survival.

Among the species and habitats that will benefit from the protections are long-snouted seahorse, tentacled lagoon worm and blue mussel beds.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove today created seven new Marine Conservation Zones in Beachy Head East, Swanscombe, Goodwin Sands, Inner Bank, Kentish Knock East, and Orford Inshore.

He said, “The UK is already leading the rest of the world by protecting over 30 per cent of our ocean – but we know there is more to do.

“Establishing this latest round of Marine Conservation Zones in this Year of Green Action is another big step in the right direction, extending our blue belt to safeguard precious and diverse sea life for future generations to come.”

‘A major step forward’

Tony Juniper, Chair of Natural England, said, “These new protections are based on advice from our world-leading marine scientists and we believe will go a long way toward safeguarding over a million hectares of England’s ocean and coastal environment, and the many species which rely upon it.

“Today really does mark a major step forward for the conservation of our precious marine environment, but there is still much to be done, including putting in place more of the good practices that we know are needed to secure the long-term health of our seas and their wildlife”.

The new designations are part of the greatest expansion yet to UK’s “Blue Belt”, with a total of 41 new Marine Conservation Zones introduced today to protect habitats and species in British seas.

It follows an extensive consultation which saw overwhelming support for the proposals with over 48,000 responses received from the public.

In addition to designating all 41 of the proposed sites, protections will be expanded at 12 existing sites.

The new sites contribute to the UK’s 220,000 square km ‘Blue Belt’ of marine protection, with Marine Conservation Zones just one type of the many Marine Protected Areas in place to conserve rare, threatened and nationally important habitats and species for future generations.