Irish Sea protection area move

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A PROGRESS report from the Irish Sea Conservation Zones project has suggested two new marine conservation zones in the Irish Sea just west of the Isle of Man.

The zones have been moved and made smaller since the last progress report, partly in an effort to reduce their impact on important prawn and scallop fishing grounds in the area.

The project is urging local people to comment on the possible sites as it is the last chance to do so before final recommendations go to the government in August.

The recommendations for the zones in the Irish Sea project area are being formulated by a stakeholder group made up of around 40 people with diverse interests, from fishermen to sea anglers, yachtsmen, scientists, industry representatives and conservationists. They have interviewed more than 3,000 people in 92 different locations all over the British Isles.

The smaller sites now cover an area of approximately 117 kilometres squared. The southern boundary of the two related zones has been moved northwards to reduce the impact on fishermen who trawl east to west across this important Dublin Bay prawn ground.

The western boundary has also been moved because of the importance of this area for scallop fishing.

The new area covered by the zones is particularly desirable for its ‘Irish Sea Mounds’ and for mud habitats. The Irish Sea Mounds are a complex of rock outcrops surrounded by coarse sediments, sand, mixed sediments and mud. The site also includes an area of deepwater mud seabed. These muddy sediments support communities of large burrowing animals, including the Dublin Bay prawn.

Dr Greg Whitfield, project manager at Irish Sea Conservation Zones, said: ‘This latest progress report is the last big chance for people to comment on possible Marine Conservation Zones before the recommendations go to the government.’

The report and feedback forms can be downloaded from www.irishseaconservation.org.uki or requested by calling 01925 813 200.

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