The Guardian: The UK’s marine reserves are nothing but paper parks

Source: The Guardian

The government is in breach of its promise to create a network of marine conservation zones by 2012

Seagulls follow fishing trawler. In most cases, the fishing industry can continue to overharvest fish within marine reserves. Photograph: Alex Segre/Rex Features

What do the terms “marine reserve” and “marine-protected area” conjure up for you? Places in which, perhaps, wildlife is protected? In which the damaging activities permitted in other parts of the sea – such as trawling and dredging – are banned? Wrong.

A marine-protected area in the United Kingdom is an area inside a line drawn on a map – and that’s about it. In most cases, the fishing industry can continue to rip up the seabed, overharvest the fish and shellfish, and cause all the other kinds of damage it is permitted to inflict in the rest of this country’s territorial waters. With three tiny exceptions, our marine reserves are nothing but paper parks.

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