In its most simple form, biodiversity is life on earth and refers to the variety of life forms including plants, animals and microorganisms, the genes that they contain and the ecosystems that they form.
The marine environment has received much less attention than its terrestrial counterpart in the area of biodiversity probably because of its vast nature and the difficulties in sampling it.
As an island nation, the UK boasts around 7500 miles of coastline and a wealth of marine biodiversity ranging from basking sharks to colourful sponges and cold water corals.
Launch of the draft Marine Bill
The draft Marine Bill was published by Defra on 3 April 2008, and will be subject to pre-legislative scrutiny in Parliament over the summer.
The draft Bill contains various proposals which will help us to better protect marine ecosystems, and stem the decline in marine biodiversity. Part 4 provides for the designation and protection of Marine Conservation Zones but other Parts of the Bill are also relevant.
We have produced a non-technical leaflet on ‘Protecting our marine environment through the Marine Bill’. [PDF] (1.42 MB).
More information on the draft Bill, including the accompanying Policy Paper and Impact Assessment, is available on Marine Bill pages. More specific information is also available on what the Marine Bill means for marine nature conservation.
- 1 September 2008: Defra has submitted its first offshore marine sites to the European Commission as candidate Special Area of Conservation (cSAC). These are Braemar Pockmarks, Darwin Mounds, Haig Fras, Scanner Pockmarks and Stanton Banks.
- 11 August 2008: Defra/JNCC/NE commissioned a challenging piece of work to the Scottish Agricultural College entitled: 'Determining monetary values for use and non-use goods and services: marine biodiversity - primary evaluation'. SAC were tasked with quantifying the likely economic benefit resulting from a network of marine conservation zones (MCZ), specifically non-use or 'passive' use values. A hypothetical MCZ scenario was valued using two survey-based methods, with interviews carried out in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The potential benefits were estimated to be between £487 million - £1 170.7 million per year.
- 25 July 2008: Lyme Bay - The Lyme Bay Designated Area (Fishing Restrictions) Order 2008, came into force on 11 July 2008, closing an area of Lyme Bay to damaging types of fishing. Map of closed area [PDF] (2 MB)
Marine nature conservation sections:
- Understanding our marine biodiversity
Where you can find information on our habitats and species, including UKSeaMap - a set of broadscale seabed and water column feature maps.
- Protection of marine biodiversity
Where you will find information on what legislation is used to protect our marine habitats and species including information on the Review of Marine Nature Conservation and the designation of important sites in the UK (eg. SACs and MNRs).
- The Marine Bill - what does it mean for nature conservation?
Where you can find details of the marine nature conservation proposals within the marine bill including marine protected areas and marine ecosystem objectives.
Marine Biodiversity Team
Wildlife Habitats and Biodiversity
Zone 1/05, Temple Quay House
2, The Square, Temple Quay
Bristol BS1 6EB
Page last modified: 1 September 2008