A NEW REPORT on the value of English seas has been released, which suggests that UK waters have significant economic worth.
The study titled, ‘The value of Marine Protected Areas in the UK to divers and anglers’ was jointly published by the Universities of Aberdeen, De Montfort, Aberystwyth and Birmingham City has revealed that the creation of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in UK seas will not only benefit habitats and wildlife, but will also bring considerable economic benefits and have a positive effect on the well-being of sea and coastal users.
The report published today (16th July) follows last year's assessment of the value of protecting Scotland's seas. Scottish Environment LINK's marine taskforce found that creating a network of Scottish MPAs could provide benefits to Scotland to the tune of £10billion.
The report has been welcomed by the Marine Conservation Society (MCS), which says it ‘shines a light’ on some of the wider benefits that the proposed Marine Conservation Zones (MCZ) will bring.
“This groundbreaking study has revealed that diving and angling in 127 MCZs proposed in England is worth between £1.87billion and £3.39billion to the economy each year. In addition recreational divers and anglers questioned said they would make a one-off payment collectively worth between £730-£1,310 million to see these sites protected and damaging activities stopped,” says MCS Senior Stakeholder Engagement Officer, Sue Ranger.
“People questioned were willing to pay more if they felt that sites would be well managed to prevent harm to species and habitats. This research only questioned divers and anglers, which means the figures don’t provide a full account of the value of our seas. Other large sea user groups like sailors and tourists are also likely to attach value to the enjoyment and protection of the sea – and these values have yet to be measured.”
Campaigners, Government advisors and industry experts have suggested that 127 sites could create a coherent network, with the Government set to make an announcement in the autumn over how many will be designated MCZ’s.
The study also explored the deeper held values that divers and anglers attach to the sea. Some of the most important benefits turn out to be the value people put on being in or by the sea and coast, where they can engage with the environment on many different levels.
Jasper Kenter from the University of Aberdeen, who led on this study, says: "Increasingly we are able to assess the economic value of nature conservation. But it is also tremendously important to look at the deep emotional connection divers, anglers and others feel for the places that they visit.
“When we talk about the value of recreation, we can recognise excitement that people feel when they see a creature they've never seen before, the bond that people develop when they go out together or the peacefulness that someone feels when they are alone with the immensity of the sea. It is because of these kinds of feelings that divers and anglers want to protect these places, and much of this report is about showing the significance of these values."
The report is accessible via the ‘Resources’ tab on the UK NEA website