A suite of marine reserves is needed in Britain’s waters to protect underwater habitats, The Wildlife Trusts claims.
In a report on the state of the country’s seas, the charity says these reserves would protect wildlife and help create healthy seas.
Less than 0.001 per cent of the UK’s seas is currently fully protected from damaging activities such as dredging and fishing.
This has resulted in a number of habitats being destroyed and the decline of species such as bottlenose dolphins and corals.
Marine Reserves – TLC for Our Seas and Sea Life calls for this to be improved with legislation ensuring a number of areas are not put at risk.
In these reserves all types of damaging activities are banned, including fishing, dredging and construction.
They let areas recover from past harm or protect them against future damage and are currently used in waters surrounding countries including New Zealand, Australia, US, France and Spain.
In spring this year the government published a marine white paper which set out greater regulation of the UK’s seas.
Conservation groups have expressed concern however that there has been little progress since then, with the prime minister Gordon Brown failing to list a marine bill in his priority bills for 2007/8.
Joan Edwards, head of marine policy at The Wildlife Trusts, said: “Less than a thousandth of one per cent of the UK’s sea area is fully protected for wildlife. On land, that would be equivalent to a single nature reserve the size of Kensington Gardens.
“It’s inexcusable that our seas have been neglected for so long. The government has promised a Marine bill that will create marine reserves – areas that are fully protected from damage – and we will do everything in our power to make sure that they keep that promise.”