THE inclusion of the Lune Estuary (along with the Wyre estuary) in a new ‘Marine Conservation Zone’ will help animal life and habitats in the area to recover, according to a marine conservation officer.

Marine Conservation Zones, designated as such by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), are described on as “areas that protect a range of nationally important, rare or threatened habitats and species.”

Emily Baxter, senior marine conservation officer for the North West Wildlife Trusts [Cumbria, Cheshire and Lancashire], led the campaign for Marine Conservation Zones in the North West.

“The protection of these areas is crucial to the recovery of an array of underwater habitats and threatened species that have suffered from decades of over-exploitation,” she said.

“These special places include deep muddy plains that are home to delicate sea pens, strange spoon worms, fragile sea potatoes, as well as the world’s longest living creatures - ocean quahog clams.

“Other areas include scarce areas of sandy seabed that support a wealth of wildlife from molluscs to sea urchins, and burrowing anemones and starfish, plus four important estuaries across the North West where some of the last surviving populations of European smelt (the cucumber fish) in England are known to exist.”


In 2013, Defra designated 27 different areas Marine Conservation Zones. In 2016 it included 23 more and the recent addition of 41 new areas has taken the total to 91. Those in the Irish sea are: Wyre-Lune; West of Copeland; South Rigg; Solway Firth; Queenie Corner; and Ribble Estuary.

Ms Baxter added that, despite these new additions, recovery of the oceans in Marine Conservation Zones “will only happen if these areas are properly managed.”

She said: “That is now our next step: to ensure that management of these zones is implemented and enforced.”