|Issue 8: January 2012
Hello and welcome to the MCZ Project Newsletter - designed to keep stakeholders up-to-date with the work of the Marine Conservation Zone Project through to designation.
The Marine Conservation Zone Project was established to make recommendations to the government on new marine protected areas called Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) to help meet the requirements of the Marine and Coastal Access Act (2009).
In this update:
How the Project involved stakeholders early on
How Natural England and JNCC produce their advice
What work is still to be done
The MCZ designation timetable
The MCZ Project welcomes your feedback and questions. We have frequently been asked how people interested in the outcome of the Project can have a say, how stakeholders have been involved so far, and what the difference is between a stakeholder-led negotiation process and a Public Consultation? Answers to these questions can be found below.
A New Approach
Previously designation processes have begun with nature conservation bodies such as Natural England and JNCC providing government with advice on where sites should be designated. This would then be followed by a Public Consultation to allow the public to comment on the proposals. However, recognising the valuable knowledge and experience sea users and interest groups have of the marine environment, and the importance of considering the social and economic impacts that MCZs might have, the government decided that stakeholders should be involved in making those initial recommendations. The Finding Sanctuary model was considered to be a good approach and three further regional projects were set up to make initial MCZ site recommendations.
More work to do
The work doesn’t stop there. Natural England and JNCC are now developing their statutory advice to Defra on how the MCZs recommended by the four regional projects satisfy the Ecological Network Guidance.
This advice will be submitted by July 17th 2012. The statutory advice package will contain:
Advice on the creation of an ecologically coherent network of MPAs.
An overview of the regional MCZ project process used to identify recommended MCZs, including how sea users, and interest groups were involved.
JNCC and Natural England’s view of the four regional project’s MCZ recommendations.
An assessment of the most at risk sites/priority sites for protection.
An assessment of the scientific certainty of the regional MCZ project recommendations.
Find out more about how Natural England and JNCC produce their advice
To promote openness and transparency, an Independent Expert Review Group and stakeholders were invited comment on the draft protocols that set out the standards against which we will produce our advice. The recent independent review
of candidate Special Areas of Conservation (cSAC) recommended that, for evidence based processes, protocols should be developed and shared.
Once Natural England and JNCC deliver their advice Ministers will agree the content of the Public Consultation. They intend to include all sites recommended by the regional MCZ projects in the consultation, identifying which sites they are minded to take forward to designation and the reasons why. Their decision making will be informed by an assessment of the potential benefits and implications of designation, the evidence available and levels of stakeholder support on an individual site basis and across the whole suite of sites.
Assessment of data quality and evidence to support the site location, boundaries, features, and conservation objectives proposed by the regional projects will be a fundamental component of Ministers’ decision making. The Science Advisory Panel undertook an initial assessment, which will be further augmented in the advice provided by Natural England and JNCC. An additional independent review of the evidence available and further seabed and habitat monitoring are being commissioned by Defra and will supplement the information that Minister’s have available to inform their decision making.
Depending on responses to consultation, Ministers will decide on which MCZs to designate in 2013.