Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust hits out at lack of marine conservation zones
THE Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust has hit back at the Government branding it 'unacceptable' that no designated marine conservation zones have been created along the Lincolnshire coast.
Just as the grey seal pups born at Donna Nook near North Somercotes, are heading out to sea for the first time the Government has rejected advice to designate 127 Marine Conservation Zones (MCZ) which would protect their food supply, other sea life and underwater habitats.
Spokesman for the Trust, Rachel Shaw said: "The Government is proposing to designate just 31 marine conservation zones from the list of 127 that were recommended by experts and stakeholders.
"The Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust is bitterly disappointed by this lack of ambition and saddened to see the collaborative efforts of so many go to waste."
Only three of the 26 sites in the North Sea have made it onto the list for designation next year – none of which are off the Lincolnshire coast.
Rachel added: "Stakeholders discussed Marine Conservation Zone recommendations for more than two years, based on Defra's 2010 guidance to use 'best information currently available'.
"Now Defra appears to be changing the level of evidence required and are proposing that only 31 sites are designated in summer 2013 and they have provided no information or timetable for the designation of the remaining recommended sites.
"At best this is an unacceptable and further delay to the protection of marine wildlife, at worst the concern is that these sites may never be designated."
The news comes as a blow to the trust after a very successful year of seal pups born at Donna Nook.
The total number of grey seal pups born in 2012 was 1,525 – an increase of six per cent.
Pup mortality has been estimated at about 5.5 per cent which is back to more normal levels after the 2011 surge tide caused high pup mortality.
Rachel added: "Being able to see wild animals in such close proximity is a real privilege and one that the vast majority of visitors appreciate and enjoy.
"Donna Nook is designated a National Nature Reserve but once the seals leave the beach and head out to sea there is virtually no protection of the seabed habitats that harbour their food."
The Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust will shortly be releasing details for anyone who is interested about sea life and marine environment to take part in the consultation for the remaining 96 zones.