Page last updated at 12:00 GMT, Thursday, 1 October 2009 13:00 UK

Sea-users to help guard wildlife

Fishing boat
The project team have until the end of 2011 to recommend MCZs

Fishermen and other sea-users will help a new project which aims to safeguard wildlife in the English North Sea.

Net Gain will identify and recommend Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) in the sea, where wildlife would be protected.

The Hull-based project team will ask people who use the sea where they actually go and what they do there.

The aim is to map the ecology and human use of the sea so that MCZs can be planned in a way that has least impact on those who use the sea.

Three similar projects are already working to identify MCZs covering the south-west and south-east of England and the Irish Sea.

This is a once in a lifetime chance, we are handing over the pen to the people who use and value the sea
Joanne Redhead, project manager

The establishment of a network of MCZs is required under the government's Marine Bill.

The aim is to safeguard and encourage the recovery of marine biodiversity, and to help ensure the long-term sustainability of marine resources.

Net Gain is planning a series of events along the English North Sea coast, where it is hoping to recruit sea-users for a "stakeholder advisory panel".

The project team has until the end of 2011 to identify and recommend MCZs.

Project manager Joanna Redhead said: "This is a once in a lifetime chance, we are handing over the pen to the people who use and value the sea."

Colin Brown, chief executive of Hull's The Deep aquarium, has been appointed Net Gain's board chairman.

He said: "Net Gain has taken up quite a challenge from the government, there is a great deal to do in the next three years.

"Although the project team is based in Hull, there will be several regional hubs to ensure that the entire area has their say, so one of our main priorities is appointing the right people for these key positions."



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