In the week that the Isle of Man becomes officially signed up to Convention on Biological Diversity, DEFA Minister Phil Gawne has taken the opportunity to highlight the Island’s fantastic marine biodiversity.
“The Isle of Man is known regionally and internationally for its marine life, from our basking sharks to our world class dives sites. In recent years we have taken some really important steps to conserve our marine environment. As a signatory to the Convention on Biological Diversity we will continue to take those initiatives forward and ensure a healthy future for our marine environment.”
Put simply, marine biodiversity is the variety of life in the sea, from the smallest microbes to oceans giants like whales. In the Isle of Man we all have the opportunity to enjoy marine biodiversity, whether it is by exploring the Island’s colourful rockpools at low tide, watching seals at The Sound or enjoying a freshly caught mackerel for dinner.
Recent achievements in marine biodiversity conservation include:
• The protection of 95km2 of seabed in the Ramsey Marine Nature Reserve, including horse mussel reefs, eelgrass meadows, maerl beds and kelp forests
• A dramatic reduction in seabed dredging and trawling throughout the Territorial Sea as a result of new Queenie and Scallop Management Measures
• The ongoing development of a network of Fisheries Closed Areas at Port Erin, Douglas, Niarbyl and Laxey to protect scallop populations and restore seabed habitats.
• The completion of a comprehensive survey of the habitats of the Manx Territorial Sea by Bangor University
• The development of an ecosystem-based fisheries science course for fishermen from throughout the Irish Sea
• Great progress in our understanding of protected marine species and priority habitats through scientific research and public recording schemes
Effective marine biodiversity conservation depends on the involvement of many organisations and individuals. The Manx fishing industry has been key in many of the recent conservation developments. Non-governmental organisations and volunteers have played a vital role in improving our understanding of our protected species and the wider marine environment. DEFA’s strong links with internationally renowned universities and the involvement of local research students are also key to ensure that conservation measures are underpinned with good science. The wider Manx public have also played an essential role, supporting voluntary initiatives from basking shark reporting to beach cleaning.
“Internationally, the marine environment is under threat and it is essential that we continue to work to protect the oceans and build healthy ecosystems. Healthy seas are not only important for biodiversity, but also provide us with food, livelihoods and are ultimately the survival system for all life on earth. Our small Territorial Sea makes a disproportionately large contribution to biodiversity in the British Isles and we can lead the way in managing the marine environment for sustainable fisheries and marine biodiversity.”