Public support from across the Louth area to protect marine creatures has found its way to Number 10 Downing Street.
Four leading nature conservation charities handed over 350,000 signatures across the most famous doorstep in the land calling for an ‘ecologically coherent network of Marine Protected Areas.’
People signed pledges at aquaria and seaside events where they made sand and willow sculptures or created silver-scaled marine creatures.
Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust collected over 10,000 of these signatures on beaches and coastal nature reserves including Gibraltar Point and Donna Nook, and inland at Whisby Nature Park and the centre of Lincoln.
The conservation charities calling for the urgent designation Marine Protected Areas are Marine Conservation Society, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, The Wildlife Trusts, and WWF.
They say they are ‘extremely concerned’ that while there is huge public support for greater protection of our seas using Marine Protected Areas, there has been ‘little evidence that the government will do this on a meaningful scale for English waters or with any sense of urgency.’
They say following a two and half year public consultation process involving one million stakeholders across England the government is currently only suggesting an initial tranche of 31 Marine Conservation Zones.
The charities and government’s own advisors agree that a full, ecologically coherent network is absolutely vital to ensure the future of our seas. All four charities are calling on the Government to commit to a specified timetable designating an entire network. The charities say Marine Protected Areas are needed for mobile species – such as whales, dolphins, basking sharks and seabirds – in order to create a network that is truly ecologically coherent.
Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust PR Officer, Rachel Shaw, said: “In Lincolnshire, the long coastline and the two estuaries of the Humber and The Wash are vitally important for wildlife. Nationally important nature reserves protect our coastal wildlife in the Humber, The Wash and the open coast but out to sea there is little protection.”
“The sea off the Lincolnshire coast is home to a vast array of wildlife from brittlestars and sea squirts to grey seals and harbour porpoises. There are important nursery grounds for many species of fish including plaice, herring and cod, alongside vast beds of cockles and mussels. There should be protection for these species and the seabed habitats in which they live just as there is protection for animals and habitats on land.”
The joint petition comes in the wake of the recently published State of Nature report put together by scientists working with 25 wildlife organisations.
They compiled a stock-take of our native species – the first of its kind in the UK - and revealed that 60 per cent of the species studied have declined over recent decades. More than one in ten of all the species assessed are under threat of disappearing from our shores altogether.