Government lethargy in protecting the sea off Cromer

The plan to create 127 Marine Conservation Zones around the UK was launched four years ago, yet the green light has not yet been given to designate a single zone in either Norfolk or Suffolk, although it is claimed that the Cromer shoal chalk beds are currently being weighed up by DEFRA.

Joan Walley MP, Chair of the Environment Audit Committee, said that the government must stop trying to water down its pledge to protect our seas and move much more quickly to establish further protection zones and ensure they can be enforced. She also questioned of the Marine Management Organisation whether it would have the resources to police the zones. She added: “When a rare species or biodiverse stretch of seabed is destroyed, it may be lost for ever.”

Local groups and fishermen are expressing major concerns about the plans which they fear could bring about the an impact with restrictions on fishing that could have an adverse to their livelihood, particularly that of crab and lobster fishing. They claim that the designation is not needed. Indeed, to ensure protection, restrictions may apply to some activities in marine protected areas e.g. fisheries

But David North, head of people and wildlife at Norfolk Wildlife Trust said they were disappointed at the slow pace of designations. He believes that protection of this special habitat, the longest chalk reef in Europe, will help ensure a sustainable future for crab and lobster potting by protecting the area’s unique biodiversity and also boost local tourism by demonstrating that the offshore coastal habitats in North Norfolk are equally as beautiful and as important as the inland scenery.


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