Marine Conservation Zones – what lessons for surfers?

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Environmentalists are gutted that the UK Government has only confirmed 31 marine conservation zones where fishing and other development will be limited, rather than the 127 recommended by their experts.

This is a tricky one to judge – its great that we’re getting ANY but its a sign of the times that the needs of development win out. While the Marine Conservation Society and other groups are grinding their teeth, the fishing, ports, offshore energy, dredging etc industries are purring.

What does this matter to surfers? The purpose of the MCZs was never about protecting surf breaks but the creation of more of them would increase the amount of sealife in the oceans around us. On the other hand, the fact that there are none on the East Coast between Northumberland and Suffolk indicates (partly) the importance of the offshore windfarms which will help to reduce sea level rise in the long term.

Surfers must pin their hopes of protecting surf breaks on getting involved in the Surfers Against Sewage Protect Our Waves campaign by becoming guardians, making sure they comment on local plans and planning applications that may threaten (or enhance) surf breaks and the marine plans being produced by the Marine Management Organisation.

While the needs of the economy hold sway with decision-makers, the value of waves have to be measured and taken account of in these decisions – as long as the waves aren’t reduced to being bought and sold like any other tradeable commodity.

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