An area twice the size of England will soon become a “blue belt” of protected waters after the British government created 41 new marine conservation zones. The newly-protected areas ranging from Studland Bay, near Bournemouth, to the Goodwin Sands off the Deal coast in Kent will cover 4633 sq miles (12,000 sq km) of marine habitat, eight times the size of Greater London, bringing the total number of marine protected areas around the British coastline to 355.
Critics have in the past dismissed marine conservation zones as “paper parks” with few creating “no-take” zones that prevent all fishing, but conservationists said these zones had begun to make a real difference, with some damaging activities halted. For instance, after scallop dredging was banned in Lyme Bay in 2008, the seabed’s sea fans, sunset corals and ross corals have flourished. The short-snouted seahorse and the ocean quahog are amongst the species that will benefit from the new protections.