To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of fully or highly protected Marine Protected Areas for (a) the ecological health of inshore waters and (b) the livelihoods of local fishing communities.
19 July 2021
On 8 June 2021, the Government published its response to the Benyon Review into Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs). The Government accepted the central recommendation that we should take forward pilot sites and we will designate these next year. The purpose of HPMAs is biodiversity recovery and by setting aside areas of sea with high levels of protection, HPMAs will allow nature to recover to a more natural state, allowing the ecosystem to thrive in the absence of damaging activities. The Benyon Review Panel reviewed clear evidence and heard strong support for the ecological benefits that HPMAs can deliver.
The Government will identify pilot HPMAs with ecological value, including areas with potential to recover. In early July, Defra, with the Joint Nature Conservation Committee and Natural England, published the ecological criteria to be used in HPMA identification and opened the process for third parties to suggest potential HPMA pilot sites until the end of August. Defra will then use social and economic principles to minimise the impacts on sea users, including fishing communities. Defra will evaluate socio-economic concerns, including fisheries displacement, before designating HPMAs.