Highly Protected Marine Area Pilot Sites Announced

Five pilot sites of Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs) for England have been announced. The proposed sites include two inshore sites – Allonby Bay and off the coast of Lindisfarne – and three offshore sites – two in the North Sea and one at Dolphin Head in the Channel.

The five pilot sites are subject to consultation with the process beginning later in the year.

HPMAs will effectively be ‘no-take’ zones for fishing activity. The selected pilot sites cover a mixture of marine habitats and include key “blue carbon” areas, such as biogenic reefs like mussel beds and honeycomb reefs, that are important for sequestering and storing atmospheric carbon.

The Angling Trust will be engaging with the angling sector to identify their views on the proposed sites and will respond to the consultation accordingly when it’s live. The Trust has been liaising closely with Defra to ensure that angling views are represented throughout the development of these sites. The Trust is also advocating for angling-only zones to be created around the no-take zones.

Hannah Rudd, Policy & Advocacy Manager said “Our seas are a shadow of what they once were and the Angling Trust welcome steps to restore our marine environment. We will be working closely with anglers and charter boats in proposed site areas to represent angling interests in the consultation. We welcome action from the government to balance the socio-economic impacts of the implementation of these sites with the ecological benefits they provide. Working with the local community is the only way to make these sites a success,  and ultimately we all want to see our marine environment thriving once again.”

Stuart Singleton-White, Head of Campaigns, said, “Anglers have taken a keen interest in HPMAs since the Benyon Report was launched in 2020.  HPMAs represent an exciting opportunity to improve the protection of our seas and the fish we love to catch, but Defra have to get this right to ensure our interests are properly represented.  While “no-take zones” may form part of these HPMAs we will argue for angling-only zones to be created so that sea angling can benefit from the “spillover effect” HMPAs are claimed to provide, and the social and economic benefits are maximised.”

You can read our response to the original Benyon Report here.

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