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Marine Life & Conservation

MCS welcomes new marine conservation zones

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The Marine Conservation Society has welcomed the announcement by Government of 27 Marine Conservation Zones as a significant milestone for marine conservation in English seas, but adds that a commitment to managing the sites properly, and to designating more sites in future, is essential to ensure that a full network is achieved.

The MCS has said that this announcement is a significant step towards stemming the alarming decline in the UK’s rich marine biodiversity, ensuring iconic species such as the seahorse, black bream and native oyster, and stunning habitats in places such as Chesil Beach and the Skerries Banks, may be better protected for future generations.

The MCS also said it was pleased to see that the Government has listened to concerns about when more designations will be planned, with consultation on future zones timetabled in 2015/16 and 2016/17.

“We urge Government to bring forward designation of future tranches to prevent many threatened seabed habitats being further damaged – these 27 sites represent less than a quarter of the number recommended by scientists to complete an ‘ecologically coherent’ network,” said Melissa Moore, MCS’s Senior Policy Officer.

The MCS will be looking for clarity on the management for these sites, as the Government’s commitment to protect marine wildlife will only be delivered if effective measures are put in place to look after them.

“The MCZs will be multi-use, so low-impact fishing such as potting will be permitted in most sites. However, effective regulatory measures may need to be established to protect vulnerable sites from damaging activities such as scallop dredging and bottom trawling.” Melissa Moore continued. “It is vital that within these sites there is a clear notion of what can and can’t happen, and who is responsible for policing those activities, otherwise we’re just creating paper parks.”

Defra received around 40,000 responses to their consultation to March 31st 2013, with over 5,000 individuals providing their feedback through an online facility on the MCS website www.mcsuk.org, representing around 12.5% of the number received. MCS rallied enormous support for a network of Marine Conservation Zones, organising a march on parliament in February 2013 which was joined by viewers of the TV “Fish Fight”.

The 2013 study ‘A report on the value of Marine Protected Areas in the UK to divers and anglers’ published by the Marine Conservation Society and various partners, shows the value of marine conservation zones far outweighing the costs of designating and managing them.

See a list of the 27 MCZs here.

Marine Life & Conservation

The Big Shark Pledge: Shark Trust’s new campaign kicks off with a call for support

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With the ink still drying on last week’s landmark listing of nearly 100 species of sharks on Appendix II of CITES, the Shark Trust insists that this is not the time for shark conservation to take a break. The UK-based NGO this week launches its biggest-ever concerted campaign to tackle the overfishing of oceanic sharks. They are calling on people across the world to join the call for stricter controls on high seas fisheries.

The Big Shark Pledge is at the heart of an ambitious set of campaign actions. Working to secure science-based catch limits on all sharks and rays affected by the international high seas fishing fleet. The pledge will build the largest campaigning community in shark and ray conservation history to support a raft of policy actions over the vital years ahead.

Many of our best known and much-loved sharks make their home on the high seas. In our shared ocean, these oceanic sharks and rays face a very real threat from a huge international fleet of industrial-scale fishing vessels. Research published in early 2021 confirmed that over three-quarters of oceanic sharks and rays are now at risk of extinction due to the destructive impact of overfishing. They have declined by 71% over the last 50 years.

The Shark Trust is celebrating its 25th Anniversary this year and has a long history of securing positive changes for sharks, skates and rays. The Big Shark Pledge will build on the success of their NoLimits? campaign which underpinned landmark catch limits on Blue Sharks and Shortfin Mako in the North Atlantic.

While the listing of so many species on the CITES trade agreement is certainly a positive step, there remains a huge challenge in ensuring that sustainable practices are embedded in international fisheries.” says Shark Trust Director of conservation, Ali Hood. “Sharks on the high seas face extraordinary pressure from excessive fishing practices. This has to be addressed through international agreements such as those secured for Blues and makos.”

There is hope and a feeling of momentum in the shark conservation community. Just last week, in addition to the new CITES listings, the Shark Trust, working with partners in the Shark League, secured the first-ever international quota for South Atlantic Mako at ICCAT meeting in Portugal. The new campaign from the Shark Trust aims to push forwards from here, engaging a wave of support through the Big Shark Pledge to bolster policy action.

This will be a long-term international and collaborative effort. Forging a pathway to rebuild populations of high-seas sharks and rays. By putting science at the heart of shark conservation and fisheries management. And making the vital changes needed to set populations on the road to recovery.

Shark Trust CEO Paul Cox says of the Big Shark Pledge “It’s designed to give everyone who cares about the future of sharks the chance to add their voice to effective and proven conservation action. By adding their name to the Pledge, supporters will be given opportunities to apply pressure at key moments to influence change.

Click here to sign the Big Shark Pledge

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Gear News

Fourth Element X Sea Shepherd

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This year on Black Friday, fourth element announced their new partnership with Sea Shepherd, encouraging people to move away from mindless purchasing and to opt-in to supporting something powerful.

For 40 years Sea Shepherd, a leading non-profit organisation, has been patrolling the high seas with the sole mission to protect and conserve the world’s oceans and marine wildlife. They work to defend all marine wildlife, from whales and dolphins, to sharks and rays, to fish and krill, without exception.

Inspired by Sea Shepherd’s mission, fourth element have created a collection of fourth element X Sea Shepherd limited edition products for ocean lovers and protectors, with 15% of every sale going to the Sea Shepherd fund to help continue to drive conservation efforts globally.

“Working with Sea Shepherd gives fourth element the opportunity to join forces with one of the largest active conservation organisations in the world to try to catalyse change in people’s attitudes and behaviour. Fourth Element’s products are designed, developed and packaged with the intention of minimising our impact on the ocean environment, and with this partnership, we will be supporting the work of Sea Shepherd, in particular in their work on dealing with the twin threats of Ghost fishing nets and plastic pollution.”

Jim Standing fourth element co-founder

Read fourth element’s Sea Shepherd Opinion Piece HERE

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