Plymouth’s ambition to be the UK’s first National Marine Park is taking another step forward with a funding bid now being worked up following a successful meeting between Council leader Tudor Evans OBE and Government representatives.
Plymouth City Council is developing a preliminary Expression of Interest bid for EU and DEFRA funding to help progress the project. Councillor Tudor Evans has also written to Nigel Gooding, Head of EU and International Fisheries, and Anne Freeman, Deputy Director, Domestic Fisheries and Reform at DEFRA, to seek support after meeting with them both last week.
Plans for the potential Marine Park status are in their very early stages, but the draft application will ask for support for a feasibility study and community and partner engagement. The Council wants to work with local partners through the Marine Management Organisation, and with DEFRA and the European Union to carry out the feasibility study and engage with key stakeholders.
Councillor Evans said: “The UK has 17,820 kilometres of coastline but currently no marine parks. Plymouth, Britain’s Ocean City, is ideally placed to be the UK’s first National Marine Park.
“I had a very positive and constructive meeting with both Nigel Gooding and Anne Freeman and I was keen to emphasise the unique strategic role Plymouth can play in relation to both sustainable fishing and marine issues more widely.
“Creating appropriately large parks in the sea would demonstrate, in a way that the public already supports, that Britain cares for its marine environment as much as it does the countryside.”
The bid will aim to build on the success of the national conference, ‘Marine Parks: Bringing it all back home’, organised in association with the Blue Marine Foundation and held in Plymouth’s National Marine Aquarium in June 2018, which agreed, overwhelmingly, that Plymouth Sound and its environs were the natural home for the UK’s first marine park.
Councillor Sue Dann, Cabinet Member for Environment and Street Scene for Plymouth, said: “Plymouth is a city that’s built around its waterfront and our ambition to be the UK’s first National Marine Park would be an ideal opportunity to join all our waterfront environment together.
“We have a rich maritime heritage, a successful and productive fishing industry, world renowned marine science and engineering, a marine city deal and marine enterprise zone, the largest Naval base in Western Europe, and a National Marine Aquarium.”