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Fisheries Minister visits Finding Sanctuary project

During a visit to Devon last week, UK Fisheries Minister Richard Benyon met sea-user representatives and members of the project team responsible for mapping potential new Marine Conservation Zones around the West Country coast.

 

Richard Benyon met stakeholder representatives from recreation, conservation, fishing and commercial sectors who were able to talk about their experience of the process so far and their aspirations and concerns for the future of the network.

 

The Minister was able to see for himself how the network of potential MCZs has evolved over the past two years, based on the discussions and negotiations that have taken place between the different sector representatives.

 

Richard Benyon said: “From what I’ve learned today, I recognise the huge amount of effort the sea-user representatives have put into this work and I am encouraged that this is the right process to produce an outcome which is both credible and workable. I want this process to be part of a wider vision to make our seas healthier for future generations and positive for all those who rely on this ecosystem.”

 

Tom Hooper from Finding Sanctuary said: “It was encouraging that the Minister was able to appreciate first hand the level of involvement and huge amount of work going on behind the scenes by the stakeholder representatives.  He certainly recognised that all this work will ensure a carefully thought through set of recommendations is developed prior to the Defra consultation process in 2012.

 

The project Steering Group is made up of 41 members representing a range of sea users. The work they have been carrying out since the very start of the project has formed the current network which will continue to develop until the final submission of recommendations to Government on 28th August 2011.

 

Steering Group representative John Butterwith said “I am glad that the Minister was able to see first hand the culmination of four years hard work. He was made aware that the fishing industry is environmentally conscious and can support MCZs in the right context.

 

Finding Sanctuary is one of four regional Marine Conservation Zone projects which covers the sea surrounding England’s south-west peninsula. The Third Progress report, recently produced by Finding Sanctuary, including maps can be downloaded from http://www.finding-sanctuary.org/page/resources.html

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