Conservative Party PortraitsUPDATED: The Island’s MP, Andrew Turner, has invited Richard Benyon  MP, Minister in the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), to visit the Island next Monday to hear the concerns of Islanders about the potential introduction of Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) and their effect on the Isle of Wight.

MCZs are sea areas where marine life and habitats are protected.  They were introduced in the 2009 Marine and Coastal Access Act which proposed the creation of additional “marine protection zones” around the offshore waters of England and Wales. These differ from existing conservation areas, concentrating on areas of the shore and seabed which are in danger from outside influences such as dredging, trawling, anchoring and diving.

DEFRA are undertaking a public consultation, ending on 31st March 2013,  seeking views on the proposals for the designation of MCZs in English inshore and offshore waters.  Mr Turner has received a great deal of correspondence both in favour of and against the introduction of MCZ’s around the Isle of Wight.  Mr Benyon will be meeting a number of harbour masters, commercial fishermen and Island anglers prior to holding a public meeting open to all interested parties.

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Mr Turner commented: “Conservation is important but there are also significant implications for the economy of the Island, as some activities such as sailing and fishing would be restricted. The proposed MCZ’s could cover some of the UKs most, popular sailing, boating and anchoring areas, including the seas around the Isle of Wight.  I am far from convinced that the full economic impact on areas like the Island has been properly considered.

“The point of DEFRA’s consultation is to give those who support the early introduction of MCZ’s and other sea users such as commercial fishermen and anglers the opportunity to comment on the current proposals and provide additional evidence on the proposed zones before they are finalised.  I am very pleased that the Minister has agreed to come to the Island to meet Islanders who would be directly affected by the proposals.  He has also agreed to attend a public meeting and answer questions and I would encourage all interested parties to attend this to make their views known as part of the consultation process.”

UPDATED @ 15:10: Andrew Turner has announced a changed time for the public meeting to be held in the Riverside Centre, Newport.   The meeting will now start at 12.00 midday – not 1.30pm as previously advised.  The change has been necessary as the Minister needs to travel back to Westminster earlier than expected.

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