Warning of “environmental disaster” off North West coast

Sharks live in the Irish Sea

Sharks live in the Irish Sea

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Conservationists say plans to postpone the creation of a new network of nature reserves in the Irish Sea could lead to “environmental disaster”.

The North West Wildlife Trust has criticised a Government decision to exclude five out of seven sites off the North West coast that were originally put forward as potential Marine Conservation Zones (MCZ) - zones designated for protection because they are at risk of damage through activities such as fishing.

The Trust says it is deeply concerned and is calling on Lancashire residents to make their views heard during the latest consultation process.

The North West Wildlife Trusts’ Marine Conservation Officer, Dr Emily Baxter, said: “By deciding that some areas need further consideration it is postponing action to protect them yet again and the Government is leaving the Irish Sea open to an environmental disaster.

“Supporting sustainable fisheries, instead of encouraging overfishing and habitat destruction, would increase fish landings, generate more income and create more jobs in the sector. Decision-makers need to think of sustainable fisheries as an opportunity for job creation and increasing the value of fisheries rather than an environmental principal that comes at a price to the industry. Marine Conservation Zones are a vital part of this process.”

Although the Government said the Irish Sea areas have only been postponed for further consideration, Dr Baxter said sites postponed in the first round of consultation in 2013 have not come back to the table for consideration.