Technology to preserve marine environment

PUBLISHED: 18:35 18 August 2009 | UPDATED: 11:40 10 June 2010

EXMOUTH S fishermen, lifeboat crews, pleasure boaters and other Exe Estuary users can now help create a new network of sea-based nature reserves, at the click of a button.

EXMOUTH'S fishermen, lifeboat crews, pleasure boaters and other Exe Estuary users can now help create a new network of sea-based nature reserves, at the click of a button.

Finding Sanctuary is a pioneering project to design a network of Marine Protected Zones (MPZs) in the seas around South West England.

And this week an online interactive map was launched so that people with an interest in the sea can get involved in MCZs across the South West.

This project uses cutting-edge web technology to ensure people across the region can have their say.

Everyone with an active interest in the sea, such as fishermen, sea anglers, wildlife watchers, divers, leisure boaters and watersports enthusiasts, are all invited to use Finding Sanctuary's Interactive Map to explore which areas of sea are important to them.

Tom Hooper, Finding Sanctuary Project Manager said: "Finding Sanctuary is breaking new ground; we are planning Marine Conservation Zones from the bottom up - by working closely with people who use the sea. The Interactive Map will help us to do this, by encouraging public participation at an unprecedented level."

The map lets you create a map showing the sea areas used and what the individual knows about those areas - for example a diver can map dive sites and what species they know are at those sites.

The information will help to determine the best locations for MCZs. Finding Sanctuary's aim is to design the MCZs so that they cause the least disturbance to people who use the sea, and have the most benefits for conservation.

He added: "It gives everyone with an interest in the sea the opportunity to be involved in shaping the Marine Conservation Zone network.

"We want to show that it is possible to protect the marine environment, through a process that represents the interests of a wide range of stakeholders."

To use the Interactive Map to explore your area and share your information visit www.finding-sanctuary.org and follow the links.

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