Two sites in the Irish Sea – Allenby Bay on the Solway Firth, and West of Walney off Barrow-in-Furness, both in Cumbria – number among the latest zones announced yesterday (Sunday 17 January).
The news comes a month after Northern Ireland put forward four new proposed sites for consultation, and more than two years after Westminster confirmed the first 27 MCZs around the British coastline, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.
With the latest designations, that now brings the total number of conservation zones in England to 50 – still less than half of the 127 sites originally proposed after the passing of the Marine Act six years ago.
And according to marine conservation experts, even with these designations "the UK’s rich marine life has very little protection'.
Prof Callum Roberts of the University of York added that the MCZs are no more than "paper parks".
"They have no management at all, so life within them remains unprotected," he said. "They will be worse than useless, giving the illusion of protection where none is present."
The Guardian has much more on the story HERE.