Marine charity welcomes the Benyon Review and calls for a suite of Highly Protected Marine Areas to be designated in English seas within a year, after decades of Government stalling.
The Marine Conservation Society has welcomed the publication of the Benyon Review into Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs), but warns that another Government report is not enough, and that positive action to recover our seas is urgently needed within 12 months. The review received more than 5,000 responses from the charity’s supporters, who have been calling for the establishment of HPMAs for decades.
HPMAs are ’gold standard’ zones which should offer the best protection for our ocean, banning damaging activities that have decimated wildlife and habitats. They are considered by marine biologists around the world as the most effective mechanism to restore degraded marine ecosystems and recover marine wildlife populations.
The Review, conducted over the past year by a panel of experts, involved consultation with the Marine Conservation Society, other non-government organisations and maritime interests, alongside a public consultation. The Review report calls for the designation of HPMAs in English seas to protect marine biodiversity and important ‘blue carbon’ habitats.
Just like nature reserves and national parks on land, Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are set up to look after particular seascapes, habitats and species. Of the 355 MPAs in UK seas, only four are fully protected from all extractive activities, covering less than 20km2. All other UK MPAs allow some extractive or damaging activities (e.g. fishing, aggregate extraction, angling etc.) within their boundaries.
The Review recommends that some existing MPAs should be considered for upgrading to HPMA status. This means protection will go a step further for these MPAs by taking a ‘whole-site approach’ to protection, excluding all damaging activities across the site. The Review also recommends that ‘blue carbon’ habitats are identified for HPMA designation, recognising the incredible power of the UK’s marine and coastal habitats such as seabed, seagrass, and saltmarsh to lock down atmospheric CO2 and help combat climate change.
The Marine Conservation Society urges the Government to act swiftly on the review and properly invest in the work to get designations in place by World Oceans Day 2021, at the latest.
Dr Jean-Luc Solandt, Principal Specialist Marine Protected Areas recalled: “The UK government had an important opportunity to designate 65 HPMA sites in English waters back in 2013, but failed to do so, citing a ‘lack of evidence’ and bowing to pressure from industry and fishing lobbyists. As a result, key seabed habitats continue to be damaged and the health of our seas declines. This Review is promising, but means nothing if Government – after decades of delay – doesn’t at last grasp the nettle and get these essential management measures in place with urgency”
Dr Peter Richardson, Head of Ocean Recovery said: “We welcome the conclusions of the Review, which support our long-held view that HPMAs should be introduced in UK waters, and the wishes of thousands of our supporters who also want to see real protection for our marine wildlife and habitats now. The Government has a historic opportunity to make much-needed changes to the way we protect our seas and just needs to get on with it! We have less than 10 years to take action to reduce the worst effects of climate change. Work now to establish a blue-belt of climate-smart HPMAs in our seas will lock down ‘blue carbon’ and help meet our net zero-carbon targets. MCS will use the findings of this Review to push Government to designate HPMAs in English waters within a year.”
Creating HPMAs in the UK’s waters will help return parts of our ocean to the most natural state possible. The Westminster Government has rightly supported extensive HPMA designations in our UK Overseas Territories, but not in the UK’s heavily-used domestic waters. By delivering the recommendations of this Review, the UK can start addressing the apparent imbalance of this approach and make a real difference to the future of our ocean.
For more information on Marine Protected Areas, HPMAs and the Marine Conservation Society’s work to assure healthy seas for the future, please visit www.mcsuk.org.
To read the full Benyon Review on HPMAs, visit here.
Scubaverse Underwater Photographer Interview: Ivan Donoghue
In an ongoing series, Scubaverse’s Underwater Photography Editor Nick Robertson-Brown talks to underwater photographers from around the world that he admires. In this blog: Ivan Donoghue
NRB: Tell us a little about yourself
ID: My name is Ivan Donoghue. I live in a coastal county of Ireland called Wexford and it was with Wexford Sub Aqua Club that I learned to dive in 1990. In 1996 I bought my first small housing for a disposable camera, then moving up through a Nikonos V, several compact digital cameras and now shoot with a Canon 7Dii DSLR in an Aquatica housing.
Over the years I’ve had modest success in some of the underwater competitions including the British and Irish Underwater Photography Championship, the British Wildlife Photography Awards, Hook Peninsula Photography Competition, Diving Life Photography Competition, and this year I was truly delighted to be awarded the Love Your Coast Photographer of the Year.
I have run the main underwater photography and videography competitions for Irish divers and I’m proud to have helped promote underwater photography in Ireland.
NRB: How did your underwater photography start?
ID: I began diving in 1990 with my local club, Wexford Sub Aqua, in the south east of Ireland. After six years of learning the skills, I purchase my first u/w camera, an UNDY housing which accepted disposable cameras. After that I bought a second-hand Nikonos V (now resting on my shelf). After that it was a couple of compacts before moving to DLSR with a Canon 550D and Aquatica housing and then a Canon 7Dii in recent years.
NRB: What is your favourite u/w camera equipment (past & present) & why?
ID: My current Canon 7Dii and Aquatica housing travels home and away with me, but the one piece of equipment that opened my eyes was the INON wide angle wet lens. Adding the ability to get close to the subject is a game changer in everyone’s images. Where once I could only get a diver’s face, now I was getting their whole body and fins. It really was a game changer for my photography.
NRB: What would be your advice to anyone new to underwater photography?
ID: Firstly, if I could go back in time, I believe a dedicated underwater photography workshop would have been so beneficial to me and cut out a lot of mistakes. Secondly, buy a camera and housing set up that allows a wide-angle lens to be fitted. Getting close and adding good light to the image will make your pictures stand out. Shoot RAW and shoot using manual settings.
NRB: What, or who, has been the single biggest inspiration for your underwater photography?
ID: I believe Alex Mustard is the best in the world. Not only does he take award winning images, write books, he also educates people on how they can become better through books, talks and trips.
However, my biggest inspiration is Irishman Nigel Motyer. I first met Nigel when we were discussing introducing an U/W photography course for the Irish Dive organisation. That day he lent me his SLR and I took my first wide angle pic. From that day we have travelled to the Bahamas, west of Ireland and Hook Head and on these dives, I have learnt from him.
NRB: What image are you most proud of and why?
ID: The image I am most proud of is the recent one of the Jellyfish and Diver. The reason is that it was the winner of the Love Your Coast competition 2020, the first time an underwater image took top prize. The picture also shows a dive friend Nick Pfeiffer who kindly took me and my wife in his boat that day to the Aran Islands and also had the good manners to make the background more interesting by posing! That is what divers do for each other – we go that extra mile to help fellow divers.
NRB: Where is your favourite dive location, and is it your favourite for the photography?
ID: I love the Red Sea and have been lucky to have a dived their several times. Egypt and its history is something that grows on you. Now that my son is older and has a dive qualification, I hope to spend more holiday time there.
Back at home in Ireland I love a shore dive about 40 mins from my home. It is a ten-minute walk from the car to the site, but when you get there, it is a shallow site with the Schlesien shipwreck, propellor, hidden caves and a blowhole where you can surface for a chat.
NRB: What are you views on marine life manipulation, moving subjects?
ID: I don’t like the idea of adding anything to a picture and it’s the same when it comes to harassing animals or damaging coral for a picture opportunity.
NRB: What do you look for when you are making your images?
ID: I love wide angle images, so I look for something in the foreground with a diver in the frame. Good visibility is a bonus, but not guaranteed in Irish waters of my home county where either windy weather or plankton blooms affect the seasons.
NRB: What motivates you to take u/w photos?
ID: I love scuba diving and I love photography, so those two addictions are very potent. In addition, for the underwater photographer the gratification doesn’t stop after the dive. It continues through to the download of images and reviewing them on the computer. A good photography dive can keep giving enjoyment for days afterwards.
NRB: If you could photograph any one thing/place what or where would that be?
ID: I’ve always looked enviously at the travel features in Scubaverse, so a lot of the places featured in the magazine would me on my wish list. I’d love to do the cage diving trip to photograph Great White Shark off Guadeloupe. I’d also love to travel to Indonesia with my family, as it’s a part of the world I’ve never been to, but I know offers superb diving and photography opportunities.
Call for Amazon Shark Ban
Alice Cimino, made a shocking discovery while shopping on Amazon. As the founder of OceanKin Conservation she was appalled to discover the sale of shark products in the form of newborn baby sharks preserved in bottles and offered as gifts. Just over a week ago, Alice launched a petition urging Amazon to ban the sale of shark products on petition platform change.com which has garnered an overwhelming response.
Amazon permit the sale of shark products on their U.S.A platform from vulnerable and endangered species, such as the Spiny Dogfish shark and Mako shark. These items range from shark pups in bottles, Mako teeth and Mako jaws to supplements created with chondroitin aka shark cartilage.
“I am trying to encourage Amazon to align their actions with their words as they profess to be a company with good values,” said Alice Cimino.
As she dug deeper, Alice’s investigations uncovered surprising contradictions within the global shopping giant’s policies and sustainability credentials. Through their Smile program Amazon support ocean conservationists such as WWF and Ocean Conservancy. Amazon also outlined plans for the company to be completely carbon free by 2040. Alice explained, “Allowing the sale of shark products not only sends the wrong message to consumers, it is also at odds with the ethics Amazon claim they have.”
Sharks populations are in critical decline, with a 70% decrease over the past 60 years. “If we don’t stand up for this keystone species, our oceans ecosystems will collapse, it’s that simple. Amazon should stand by their sustainability statements and work with the marine community to protect the oceans most important apex predator, the shark.”
A link to OceanKin’s petition can be found at www.oceankinconservation.com
Updates and further information on the campaign can be found on Instagram @oceankin_conservation & @protectoceankin on Twitter.
Win a Waterproof BODY 2X Power Stretch Hollow Fiber Undergarment!!!
For this week’s competition, we’ve teamed up with our good friends at CPS Partnership to give away a Waterproof BODY 2X...
WIN a SeaLife AquaPod Mini!!!
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For this week’s competition, we’ve teamed up with our good friends at Liquid Sports to give away a Sharkskin Performance 40L Duffle...
WIN a DivePro S10 Compact Dive Torch!!!
*Please note that this competition closes on 10th March 2021, not 12th February 2021 as stated in the competition’s terms...
Explore the amazing triangle of Red Sea Reefs - The Brothers, Daedalus and Elphinstone on board the brand new liveaboard Big Blue. With an option to add on a week at Roots Red Sea before or after.
Strong currents and deep blue water are the catalysts that bring the pelagic species flocking to these reefs. The reefs themselves provide exquisite homes for a multitude of marine life. The wafting soft corals are adorned with thousands of colourful fish. The gorgonian fans and hard corals provide magnificent back drops, all being patrolled by the reef’s predatory species.
£1475 per person based on double occupancy. Soft all inclusive board basis, buffet meals with snacks, tea and coffee always available. Add a week on at Roots Red Sea Resort before or after the liveaboard for just £725pp. Flights and transfers are included. See our brochure linked above for the full itinerary.
This trip will be hosted by The Scuba Place. Come Dive with Us!
Call 020 3515 9955 or email email@example.com
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