Marine Protected Areas, also referred to as MPAs, are areas of the sea and coast that are designated to protect marine habitats and species. They are one of the tools used to protect the marine environment and promote the sustainable use of marine resources.
Marine Protected Area is an umbrella term for a wide-ranging variety of protected areas, all with various goals, including marine reserves, marine sanctuaries, marine parks and locally managed marine areas, to name a few. In the UK we have several types of MPA all established under different legislation and international conventions. Each MPA has its own set of conservation objectives to fulfil and together they create an extensive network of marine protection across UK and European waters. The two main types of MPA within the District that Kent and Essex IFCA are responsible for managing fishing activities within and furthering the conservation objectives of are European Marine Sites and Marine Conservation Zones. Types of Marine Protected Areas Human activities are not automatically excluded from UK MPAs. Instead, activities are closely monitored to ensure that they do not damage or disturb the protected habitats and species of a site. If an activity is not compatible with the conservation objectives of an MPA restrictions on that activity are applied.
With a coastline of over 18,000km, the UK has a large marine area, rich in life and natural resources. The UK's seas are home to some of the best marine wildlife in Europe, with a wide diversity of underwater habitats and species. Many of our marine habitats and species are particularly rare and therefore of an international importance. The marine environment is coming under increasing pressure from human activity, which can damage and further threaten marine ecosystems. By protecting our marine environment now, we can ensure that our seas, which are a common resource, will continue to contribute to our society for generations to come.
MPAs enable us to:
? Protect threatened species and habitats to help ensure biodiversity is not lost as a result of widespread damaging activities ? Provide some relatively unaffected areas of high biodiversity value to support the structure and functioning of the wider marine ecosystem ? Protect and recover the ecosystems in our seas and around our coasts ? Provide opportunities for education and scientific study
IFCAs are responsible for the sustainable management of inshore fisheries resources out to six nautical miles from coastal baselines around the coast of England. Within this remit IFCAs are the leading authority for the management of fisheries within inshore (0-6nm) MPAs and, as such, must take the necessary steps to ensure the conservation objectives of MPAs are furthered.
Find out more about how Kent and Essex IFCA manage fisheries in MPAs here