Expansion of Solway Firth site boosts England’s network of Marine Protected Areas
The UK government has today boosted the country’s ‘Blue Belt’, England’s network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), by announcing the expansion of the Solway Firth protected site.
Over 125,000 seabirds will benefit from the expansion of this site, with red-throated diver and ringed plover joining the extensive list of species already protected. This will also encourage population growths for important species such as wintering divers and gulls.
The protected area in Solway Firth sits in both English and Scottish waters and today will be expanded in total by 92,070 hectares, becoming an impressive 135,750 hectares in size. The devolved administration in Scotland also announced a similar expansion in its waters today, as well as several other MPAs.
The expansion of the Solway Firth site follows work undertaken by Nature Scot and Natural England to provide scientific advice and conduct public consultation on the introduction of further protections.
It will provide clarity on where boundaries of important foraging areas for protected seabird species are and offers the opportunity to adopt additional management measures if required, which may include byelaws to manage commercial fishing or the zoning of recreational activities such as water sports.