We do not expect the European Union Commission to propose marine conservation zones.
However, there are a number of Community instruments that require the establishment of marine protected areas (MPAs).
Under the EC habitats directive (Council Directive 92/43/EEC on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora), and the EC wild birds directive (Council Directive 79/409/EEC on the conservation of wild birds), member states are obliged to designate special areas of conservation (SACs) and special protection areas (SPAs). Currently, we have 81 SACs and 73 SPAs with marine components in the UK.
The EC marine strategy framework directive (Council Directive 2008/56/EC) requires member states to establish marine protected areas (MPAs) in their waters as a means of achieving good environmental status. The Government consider that marine conservation zones, as proposed in the Marine and Coastal Access Bill, combined with marine SACs and SPAs, will provide the UK with valuable tools to help meet this requirement.