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Marine Protected Areas

The term ‘Marine Protected Area’ (MPA) is a catch-all for a number of different protections given to the marine environment under law in the UK. These include, Marine Conservation Zones (MCZ), Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMA) Special Protection Areas (SPA), Special Areas of Conservation (SAC), Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). The MPAs in the UK are intended to form a coherent network that contributes to the sustainable conservation and use of the marine environment.

Angling and other activities, such as bait collection, can, on occasion, come into conflict with the objectives of MPAs. This may be directly related to fishing or, for instance, in the case of bait collection, may be related to the disturbance of protected bird species. In these cases restrictions on angling or bait collection may be proposed in order to achieve the objective of that particular MPA.

However, angling has much to gain from the protection of habitats and species from damaging activities such as trawling and dredging which have destroyed habitats, ecosystems and reduced both the volume and diversity of fish species the UK’s marine environment used to support.

For this reason, the Angling Trust, working closely with angling organisations across Europe, and with the European Anglers Alliance (EAA), using evidence from around the World, campaigns to ensure that marine protected areas include recreational angling (and bait collection) wherever angling is compatible with the objectives of the site and is restricted only where there is robust evidence that the impact of angling is having a significantly adverse impact on the habitat, species or ecosystem being protected.

For the most part, the damage to the marine environment, or the protection needed, is not caused by members of the public fishing recreationally and we aim to ensure that the public’s right to fish is protected while also recognising that MPAs play an important role in protecting and restoring the marine environment for the future health and prosperity of all of us.

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