Page last updated at 16:55 GMT, Tuesday, 13 April 2010 17:55 UK

Parties promise debate on marine conservation zones

Lundy Island
Lundy is the first site to be protected

Consultation with the fishing industry is a priority for the three main parties on creating marine protection zones in Devon and Cornwall.

Lundy Island off Devon is the first marine site in England to be protected as a Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ).

The aim is to preserve important habitats and species by restricting damaging maritime activities.

Four regional projects have have also been set up to work with local interest groups to identify additional MCZs.

'All voices'

Gary Streeter, the Conservative candidate for Devon South West, told BBC News: "I think we should fully support the marine zones.

"For too long we have looked after the countryside quite well but we haven't thought enough about the seas.

"I am concerned that the fishing community has not been properly consulted.

"We will make sure all voices are heard, particularly those who make their living from the seas."

if we go on we will destroy a lot of the habitats that fishermen depend upon
Linda Gilroy

Linda Gilroy, Labour candidate for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport, said fishermen had been involved in discussions.

"It's really important their views should be taken into account.

"We will take into account what their needs and interests are.

"That is not to say their won't be some tensions.

"But if we go on we will destroy a lot of the habitats that fishermen depend upon."

More input call

Julian Brazil, the Liberal Democrat candidate for Totnes, said that rules governing the fishing industry were too centralised and more importance should be given to regional views.

"Local fishermen have to have more input," he said.

"I always find it incredibly disappointing that many of our inshore fishermen find themselves at the wrong end of regulations whereas the massive factory farming fishing boats out there seem to be able to get away with it.

"In my area they are single fishermen throwing out pots or dredging for scallops and they seem to be unfairly legislated against."

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