By Matthew Roscoe • 03 December 2020 • 13:04
125,000 seabirds to benefit from the expansion of the protected site of Solway Firth which will boost England’s network of Marine Protected Areas.
The UK government has boosted the country’s ‘Blue Belt’, England’s network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), by announcing on Thursday, December 3, the expansion of the Solway Firth protected site.
Over 125,000 seabirds will benefit from the expansion of this site, with the red-throated diver and ringed plover joining the extensive list of species already protected. This will also encourage population growths for important species such as wintering divers and gulls.
The protected area in Solway Firth sits in both English and Scottish waters and today will be expanded in total by 92,070 hectares, becoming an impressive 135,750 hectares in size. The devolved administration in Scotland also announced a similar expansion in its waters today, as well as several other MPAs.
The expansion of the Solway Firth site follows work undertaken by Nature Scot and Natural England to provide scientific advice and conduct public consultation on the introduction of further protections.
It will provide clarity on where boundaries of important foraging areas for protected seabird species are and offers the opportunity to adopt additional management measures if required, which may include byelaws to manage commercial fishing or the zoning of recreational activities such as water sports.
The UK government recently expanded an internationally significant protected site on the Isles of Scilly and launched a call for evidence on proposals for managing five of England’s Marine Protected Areas including the Canyons, a deep-sea habitat which harbours cold-water corals, and Dogger Bank, the largest shallow sandbank in British waters.
Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said: “The UK seabird population is of global importance with the UK holding more than a quarter of Europe’s breeding seabirds. This addition to England’s vital MPA network is a significant step forward in our ongoing commitment to protect and improve the resilience of our marine environment and its precious wildlife.”
“Together with the development of our Seabird Conservation Strategy, we will help the coastal environment to recover and thrive for future generations to enjoy.”
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Originally from the UK, Matthew is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at [email protected]
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