United Kingdom

The Government is seeking views on Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs).

Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs) will have the highest level of protection in our seas. They will protect all species and habitats within the HPMA, allowing nature to fully recover.

This is the latest step in the Government’s progress towards our ambitious ocean commitments and builds on the existing Marine Protected Area (MPA) network which covers 40% of English seas.

In order to restore the ecosystem to as natural a state as possible, activities such as fishing, dredging, construction and anchoring are prohibited in HPMA sites.

Environment Minister Rebecca Pau said.

Highly protected marine areas will offer the highest level of protection in our seas. They will help to fully restore a range of valuable habitats and species, increasing the resilience of our ecosystem and allowing the marine environment to thrive.

As demands on our oceans increase, it is more important than ever that we take decisive action to protect nature while ensuring we can continue to meet the sustainable needs of those who rely on our seas.

Defra is consulting on five candidate pilot HPMAs, which are geographically spread around English waters and cover nearshore and marine environments. These.

  • Two coastal locations: Allonby Bay (Irish Sea) and Lindisfarne (North North Sea).

  • Three offshore sites: Northeast of Furness Deep (Northern North Sea), Inner Silverhole South (Southern North Sea) and Dolphin’s Head (Eastern Channel).

The five candidate pilot sites are a mix of natural and degraded sites and include a wide variety of biodiversity, such as protected intertidal mudflats, submucosa kelp forests, and biogenic and reef reefs. They are also home to valuable marine species, commercially important fish stocks, and include blue carbon habitats that play an important role in carbon sequestration and storage. Candidate sites were selected through ecological analysis and advice from the Joint Nature Conservancy Committee (JNCC) for Natural England.

Tony Juniper, chairman of Natural England, said:

By supporting the full restoration of vital marine ecosystems, Marine Highly Protected Areas will be an important mechanism for reversing the damage to our ocean and protecting it for future generations.

The five candidate sites outlined today offer an opportunity to protect our most vulnerable marine wildlife, and I welcome this consultation as we take the next step to ensure the long-term sustainability of our ocean.

The consultation will run for 12 weeks, starting on 6 July 2022. The first HPMAs will be appointed in 2023.

The Government is seeking views on Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs).

SourceThe Government is seeking views on Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs).

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