Scuba dive chief joins TV chef in London for save our seas campaign

A scuba diving chief from St Asaph has joined forces with TV chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall to save our seas.

Mary Tetley, the Chief Executive of the British Sub Aqua Club, is a leading light in the campaign to increase the number of Marine Conservation Zones around the UK coastline.

Mrs Tetley made the call after the Government spent more than £8 million on identifying 127 areas where dolphins, seahorses and other rare species most need protection.

The idea is to create underwater “national parks” to safeguard marine life.

But so far the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has only  managed to set out plans to create 31 sites by the end of this year, while the majority of MCZs have no timetable.

The BSAC boss and the celebrity chef led a protest march of hundreds of people, including divers in full scuba kit, to Westminster.

The protest was organised in conjunction with the Marine Conservation Society and the Sea Life organisation.

BSAC is the UK’s leading dive club and the sport’s National Governing Body, providing an internationally-recognised diver training and development programme via a network of clubs and centres across the country and overseas.

Mrs Tetley has lived in the Vale of Clwyd for more than 10 years and also owns Denbigh Chocolate Shop with her husband Mark Young.

She said: “The turn out in London was proof of the depth of feeling surrounding this vital issue.

“We believe that Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) will allow our seas to recover their health and sustain our marine species and seabed types for the benefit of everyone.

“It is imperative that the full 127 MCZs  be protected immediately to stop irreversible damage to the beautiful and essential habitat which exists off our shores.

“We are also working to ensure that, as divers and snorkellers, we will be able to continue to enjoy and contribute to the long-term success of these zones and, ultimately, to the health of our seas.”

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is highlighting the need for better marine protection in the Fish Fight series, being shown on Channel 4. He said: “There’s a public consultation going on right now over the proposals of 127 new marine reserves around the UK.

“So far we’re a little concerned that the Government are only going to look at 31 of those in the coming year, and at this point they haven’t given us a time frame for the rest.

“This is the sort of opportunity that may not come again. We might not have such a vital and appropriate time frame as we’ve got right now to make real changes.

“If we leave it too much later, too much damage will have been done. It will be hard for a lot of the areas to recover.

“What’s particularly worrying is there are 33 areas that scientists have assessed as being in urgent need of protection and recovery that have not been included in the areas to be considered.”

“Marine protection must happen now – and not on a limited scale. I’ve seen in the Isle of Man and in Lyme Bay that MPAs are helping the seabed, helping fish and scallop stocks, and improving the lot of sustainable fishermen. The Government must take notice and implement 127 MCZs around England.”

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