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Seas and Oceans: Environment Protection

Volume 475: debated on Monday 12 May 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the percentage of UK waters that would need to be turned into no-take marine reserves to (a) preserve biodiversity within the UK's marine environment and (b) help fish stocks recover from over-fishing. (203993)

Our objective is to designate an ecologically coherent network of well-managed marine protected areas by 2012. Various figures have been suggested for the proportion of our seas that might need to be protected to achieve that aim. These figures have been based on a range of assumptions and criteria. They have also been produced without the benefit of the detailed work which we have asked the statutory nature conservation agencies to undertake with stakeholders. At this stage, and without the detailed work having been carried out, we think it would be wrong to set a fixed target for the proportion of the sea which needs to be protected in order to achieve our conservation objectives.