Highly Protected Marine Areas review panel confirmed

English coastline.

Sea and rocks, Cornwall, England.

A seven strong advisory panel confirmed today (Monday 22 July) will examine whether and how the strongest protections for areas of English sea, known as Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs), could be introduced.

The Highly Protected Marine Areas review led by Richard Benyon MP was announced in June by the Environment Secretary Michael Gove. Over the next six months, the panel will evaluate whether to establish a process for selecting Highly Protected Marine Areas and, if supported by evidence, recommend potential locations for pilot sites.

The review will carefully consider the economic and social impacts on businesses and individuals who use the sea, taking into account the views of a wide range of stakeholders, including fishermen, conservation groups, marine industries and local communities.

Review Chair, Richard Benyon MP said:

The seas around our coast are a vital asset for nature and all those who rely on them to make a living.

This panel brings a broad range of expert experience, including those who study, use and benefit from the bounty of our ocean. Together we will consider carefully over the course of the next six months whether and where we can go further to safeguard marine life balancing the interests of fishing, conservation and local communities.

Members of the newly established panel are:

  • Joan Edwards, Director of Living Seas at The Wildlife Trusts. She has substantial experience working on marine issues in the Wildlife Trusts for over 30 years and led the NGO campaign for the Marine and Coastal Access Act and its implementation.

  • Callum Roberts, Professor of Marine Biology, University of York; Trustee of Nekton Oxford Deep Ocean Research Institute; Trustee and Chief Scientific Advisor to the Blue Marine Foundation; Member of WWF-UK’s Council of Ambassador.

  • Michel Kaiser, Professor of Fisheries Conservation, Heriot Watt University, Edinburgh. He is a board member of Fisheries Innovation Scotland and a member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Fisheries Expert Group.

  • Nathan de Rozarieux, inshore fisherman and fisheries consultant. Nathan has been a Board Member of Sea Fish Industry Authority since 2018 and was a committee member of the Cornwall Inshore Fisheries Conservation Authority.

  • Susan Owens OBE, FBA, Emeritus Professor of Environment and Policy, University of Cambridge, and Fellow Emerita of Newnham College. She was a member of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution that produced the ‘Turning the Tide’ report which addressed the impact of fisheries on the marine environment.

  • Peter Barham, facilitator for the Seabed User and Developer Group, a representative group of UK marine industries. He has over 20 years’ experience as a senior manager in public and private sectors delivering environmental and sustainable development solutions.

  • Benj Sykes, UK Country Manager, Ørsted’s Offshore wind business; Co-chair, Offshore Wind Industry Council with the Energy Minister. Benj is also on the Board of RenewableUK.

As the strongest form of marine protection, new Highly Protected Marine Areas, which would complement the existing network of 91 Marine Conservation Zones, could help protect England’s precious coastline by protecting specific areas from human activity with the potential to cause harm. The review will consider types of activity that could continue without causing harm, including navigation through these areas.

This review follows the government’s manifesto commitment to create a Blue Belt of marine protection for Britain’s overseas territories and its own coast, and builds on the ambition of the 25 Year Environment Plan.

/Public Release. View in full here.