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Suffolk: Campaigners fight for better marine rules

PUBLISHED: 12:00 24 January 2013 | UPDATED: 16:33 24 January 2013

Orford Ness lighthouse.

Orford Ness lighthouse.

A PETITION lobbying for greater protection of the UK’s marine wildlife has been presented at Westminster.

The Wildlife Trust’s Petition Fish received a tidal wave of support with a quarter of a million people putting pen to paper calling for better protection of seas and coastline.

Around 5,000 of the signatures on the petition, which was presented to Natural Environment Minister, Richard Benyon, were collected by Suffolk Wildlife Trust.

Chief executive officer Julian Roughton hoped to highlight the unprecedented opportunity that the UK has to protect the marine environment by using Marine Conservation Zones (MCZ) which were conceived to protect the plants, animals and habitats within them.

Three MCZs were recommended off the Suffolk coast but only one made it on to the Government’s consultation list.

He said: “While we are delighted that the Stour and Orwell Estuary, as one of the most important estuaries in the UK, is going to be one of the country’s first MCZs, we are disappointed that the other two – Orford Inshore and the Alde/Ore Estuary – have not been included in this round.

“However we will be campaigning hard for these two important marine sites to be protected in the next tranche of sites put forward by the Government.”

The Government’s current MCZ public consultation closes on March 31 and Mr Roughton is calling on the public to get their views heard.

He added: “The public can help us ensure that the 31 sites that the Government have selected are only the start.

“We need to ensure that the remaining sites, including the two off Suffolk’s shores, are not forgotten.”

The trust is calling for the Government to designate all 31 of the proposed MCZs this year, urgently designate sites identified by Natural England as being most under threat and ensure the proper protection of sites as soon as they are designated.

Simon King, president of The Wildlife Trust, said: “We are heartened to hear the Government confirms it has every intention of designating 127 and more if necessary.”

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