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24 September 2010

Last call for survey

There are now just a few weeks left for people to take part in the survey that may influence Marine Conservation Zones in the Irish Sea project area.

The information people pass on could help to shape recommendations for the location of new areas of marine protection called Marine Conservation Zones. The deadline to take in the part is October 31st.

So far over 200 people and 40 organisations representing the views of over 2,600 sea users have helped with the research.

This vital firsthand knowledge will help create new maps showing how our seas are being used – for both business and pleasure. If you use the sea, then get involved now to ensure that your interests are represented in the planning discussions for sizes, shapes and potential locations of Marine Conservation Zones.

The aim is for Marine Conservation Zones to have the least impact possible on people’s activities; but some restrictions will apply as the zones must meet guidelines for protecting species and habitats.

The maps will be vital in ensuring that all interests are taken into account, which will help ensure that people’s activities are not unnecessarily restricted. Possible restrictions could include anchoring bans in certain areas, new speed limits and fishing restrictions.

The recommendations for Marine Conservation Zones in the Irish Sea are being formulated by a Regional Stakeholder Group made up of around 40 people with diverse interests, from fishermen to sea anglers, yachtsmen, scientists, industry representatives and conservationists.

It is the first time that the innovative stakeholder-led approach has been used to recommend marine protection in the UK.

According to Matthew Sutcliffe of Irish Sea Conservation Zones: “This enormous data collection exercise has been a once-in-a-lifetime chance for people to tell us how and where they use our seas.

“This really is the eleventh hour when it comes to submissions and anyone who wants to play a part needs to speak up – after all, this data will be used to make decisions which could have an impact on a whole range of waterborne activities. The message has to be – make your voice heard now before it is too late.” 

Irish Sea Conservation Zones is continuing to hold a series of drop-in days where people can stop by to fill in a questionnaire meet the ISCZ team and learn more about the project.

For more information, people should contact their local liaison officer on 01925 813 200 or email info@irishseaconservation.org.uk. Liaison officers can also arrange to visit people individually until the end of October.

Any club, group, association or individual who wants to contribute information to the project can also do so via an online interactive map at www.mczmapping.org. The interactive map will continue to be available after the October 31st deadline.