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Marine Science



Next steps for managing England’s newly designated HPMAs. The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) is proposing management measures to protect the first three Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs) in England.

On 5 July 2023, HPMA designations came into effect in Allonby Bay, North East of Farnes Deep and Dolphin Head, granting them the highest level of protection in our seas.

MMO is now proposing specific management measures that will support the recovery of the HPMAs to a more natural state.

HPMAs are areas of the sea, including shore, seabed, sea surface and water column, that have been set aside with high levels of protection. This allows for the full recovery to a natural state of all marine species, enhancing fish populations, habitats and associated ecosystem processes within the site boundary.

The first proposed MMO byelaws will seek to prohibit fishing activity in all HPMAs in line with their highly protected status. Other, non-fishing, activities will be assessed and may also require management in future.

As part of the byelaw making process marine stakeholders, partner organisations and fishers are being given an opportunity to view and comment on the proposed management measures from 3 August to 14 September 2023.

A formal notification and notice period will be implemented ahead of any fisheries management measures being introduced. This is expected to be completed in early 2024.

Hilary Florek, Chair of MMO said:

“HPMAs will play a key role in helping to recover vital marine ecosystems around our coastline. With England’s first three HPMAs now officially designated, it’s MMO’s role to make sure activities including marine developments, fisheries and recreational marine activities, are professionally managed in accordance with the high level of protection required by these sites. To achieve this, we are taking the first steps and proposing specific fishing management measures for HPMAs.’’

Marine Minister Lord Benyon said:

Highly Protected Marine Areas will make sure that important species and habitats are protected whilst building on our mission to protect at least 30% of the global ocean by 2030.

“These management measures will help to support the full recovery of precious underwater environments, enhancing fish populations so that we can deliver on key environmental goals and targets while supporting a sustainable fishing industry.”