A diverse marine wildlife could boost diving tourism figures on the Island
A protected Marine reserve near the Isle of Man could prove beneficial in two very different ways says Government Marine Wildlife Officer, Fiona Gell.
Firstly the protected area could allow the marine ecosystem to thrive which would in turn enrich and replenish local fisheries.
Secondly our rare and diverse marine wildlife could be conserved.
There is growing evidence to suggest that reserves can enhance nature and food supplies.
Wildlife Officer, Fiona Gell said: "The build up of animals which happens naturally in a protected conservation area can have a positive affect on fishing - there are no walls around a marine reserve and the plankton will move out into other areas and enrich the sea around the Island.
"In this particular instance we are treating conservation as our priority but the evidence is that if we can protect one area there could be commercial benefits too.
"The ultimate aim is to have selected a marine protected area by summer 2011 and have implemented a management plan but we want to do this with the full support of the local community.
'The location is not decided'
"That is why we are spending the next three years discussing this plan so we can get as much input as possible.
"One of the key areas of work is stakeholder involvement which basically means getting input from everyone who uses the Marine environment. On a place like the Isle of Man this means almost everybody.
The north coast of the IOM is one area being considered
"It is really important that what we come up with in 2011 is something that everyone is happy with. The location for this scheme has not yet been decided. We can not make that decision until we have talked to Islanders about what they want.
"This information, along with scientific research, will mean we can make the best decision possible for the future of the marine environment around the Isle of Man.
"I can not stress how important it is to us that get the involvement of the Manx public.
'Local knowledge will feed government policy'
"I am hoping people will be able to provide information to help us make all these decisions. Some people, such as fishermen are out on the sea almost every day and they know the area really well so their opinions will be valuable to us.
"Scientists can do a lot of research but to get an idea of all the different species and habitats around the Isle of Man we will need everyone's help. We want local knowledge to feed into the Government's decision making.
The Island could follow the example of the Lundi Marine Nature Reserve
"We now have to get a short list of places together which we think could be good nature reserves and to this end we are holding a series of meetings around the Isle of Man to get as much feedback as possible from the general public.
"When we have a shortlist of places which meet the criteria people will once again get the chance to offer their opinion. It will be much easier for people at this stage to have a direct input because we will be talking about areas they are familiar.
"At this stage we are just trying to work out what level of public support we have in principal and so far we have had a generally positive response.
"We know the success of this project depends heavily on community involvement and decisions cannot be made purely on a scientific basis. Social and economic factors play a large part in getting something like this off the ground."