Marine scientists from the University of Plymouth have contributed to a major UK government report examining whether and how the strongest protections for areas of sea - known as Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs) - could be introduced.
Led by former Defra Fisheries Minister Richard Benyon, the review highlighted that while 40 per cent of the Secretary of State waters fall within marine protected areas (MPAs), less than 0.01 per cent are fully protected from destructive or extractive human activity.
The review concludes that HPMAs are an essential component of the Marine Protected Areas network, and government should introduce them into Secretary of State waters.
The review cites a number of University projects and publications while members of the Marine Conservation Research Group were asked to give evidence directly to the review panel.
There is a particular focus on the Lyme Bay Marine Protected Area, where University researchers – funded by Defra, Natural England, the European Commission and Blue Marine Foundation– have worked with the local fishing community to assess life on the seabed and economic impacts in the wake of a ban on bottom-towed fishing.
The review also highlights the newly-designated Plymouth Sound National Marine Park, an initiative first mooted by academics in 2012 with the University having a seat on the project board.
It also echoes research published earlier this year, in which a team of marine scientists – led by the Marine Conservation Research Group – called on the Government to increase its ambition to save the oceans by overhauling its approach to marine conservation management.