The Isle of Man will have nine new marine nature reserves from 1 September 2018, bringing the total to 10.
The Island currently has one such reserve – Ramsey Bay – designated in 2011.
Under the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity the Isle of Man has committed, along with other countries, to ensure that at least 10% of the Island’s coastal and marine areas are conserved by 2020.
The reserves will cover 10.4% of the Island’s territorial sea and 50.4% of the inshore waters which contain the highest diversity of species and habitats.
Legislation creating the nine new reserves around the Island’s coast will be laid before Tynwald at its July sitting.
Created under the Wildlife Act 1990 the reserves will have enhanced protection with the aim of safeguarding specific marine life and habitat features.
Byelaws, drawn up by the Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture (DEFA), will help to sustainably manage various activities within the reserves, as well as protecting and supporting their environment.
The reserves will create special protection for a number of species such as horse mussel reefs, eel grass beds, and the long-lived Iceland clam, as well as safeguarding important nursery areas for commercial and recreational fishing.
There will also be restrictions on certain activities, such as the removal of sand, gravel and rock from the seabed. Ground formations such as sea caves and rocky reefs will also be protected.
Minister for Environment, Food and Agriculture, Geoffrey Boot MHK, said:
'This is a positive and welcome move. Marine nature reserves play a vital role in protecting marine biodiversity and ensuring a sustainable fishing industry.
'Biodiversity ultimately underpins the existence of our species and the environment we inhabit and yet, alarmingly, biodiversity is in decline.
'Reserves such as these are part of global measures – which the Isle of Man is signed-up to – designed to address this decline.
'Striking the right balance between people and nature to achieve sustainable development is a key part of our status as a UNESCO Biosphere Region, and the creation of these reserves complements this objective.
'I wish to emphasise that the creation of these reserves does not represent any change to the Isle of Man’s fisheries policy. The move is fully in line with DEFA’s ‘Future Fisheries’ and ‘Managing our Natural Wealth’ strategies.'
Detailed research, analysis, and consultation has been undertaken on the specific restrictions within each reserve to provide a balanced approach to conservation and other activities. This builds on experience from managing Ramsey Bay Marine Nature Reserve which has demonstrated that both conservation and sustainable fishing can be accommodated.