Marine conservation blueprint earmarks zones for East Devon

The final blueprint for a pair of sea-based marine wildlife sanctuaries in Lyme Bay and in the Otter Estuary has been published.

And, next year, the public will have a chance to have their say before proposals get the all-clear from Whitehall.

The report contains information on all 13 Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) around the UK’s shoreline, which will form part of a wider network of protected areas, protecting marine habitats and species.

The proposed network consists of 58 sites, covering habitats from estuaries and coastal areas to deep water canyons.

A total of 13 of the suggested sites are in offshore areas, while 32 are in the inshore waters of Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and the Isles of Scilly.

The smallest recommended MCZ is only 0.09km2, located off the south Dorset coast, and the largest is 5,809km2, in offshore waters in the far south west of UK territorial waters.

In East Devon, two of these MCZs are the Otter Estuary, for its estuarine habitats and the European eel, and Lyme Bay.

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Part of Lyme Bay, about an eighth of the size of Lyme Regis, has been suggested in an effort to protect reef structures made by the honeycomb worm, a type of small stalked jellyfish, and peacock’s tail seaweed.

The MCZ process has taken two years, and involved nearly a quarter of a million of the region’s water users, including thousands of fishermen, pleasure boaters and water users from East Devon.

Project manager Tom Hooper said: “MCZs will make important changes to the way our seas are used and managed.

“It is vital that these planning decisions are carefully considered by those with strong local knowledge and with expertise from the sectors that will be affected.”

Marine minister Richard Benyon said: “The thousands of species of sea life and habitats that live hidden under our waters need just as much protection as those that we can see on land.

“Today has seen our ambition to put in place special protection areas for marine life off the coast of England, take a significant step forward.”

Final recommendations will be available to download from

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