Project Launch: Net Gain - The North Sea Marine Conservation Zones Project

Today sees the launch of Net Gain, an ambitious and dynamic new project that has been set up to identify Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) in the English North Sea. Net Gain, hosted by the Yorkshire and Humber Seafood Group in The Deep Business Centre, in Hull, will be working to establish an open dialogue with as many sea users and interest groups as possible. It will be these people who will be key in achieving the project’s aims.

Joanna Redhead, Net Gains Project Manager says ‘’Net Gain is one of four regional MCZ projects covering the south-west (Finding Sanctuary), Irish Sea (Irish Sea Conservation Zones), North Sea (Net Gain) and south-east (Balanced Seas). This is a once in a life time chance, we are ‘handing over the pen’ to the people who use and value the sea and they will identify the MCZ sites that are needed to meet the government’s objective of establishing a coherent network of sustainable marine protected areas. This is a better way to do a difficult job. The project will bring science and peoples knowledge together at a local level. Working like this gives us the best chance to build ownership and long term sustainability around the MCZ sites for now and into the future” Chair of the Net Gain Project Board and Chief Executive of The Deep, Colin Brown said: “Net Gain has taken up quite a challenge from the government, there is a great deal to do in the next three years. This is a brand new approach to planning MCZs and covers a vast area of the English North Sea coast and sea, so it is vital that we find the right stakeholders to develop the projects recommendations. “We are looking for a Stakeholder Advisory Panel, to be made up of individuals from all sea user groups in our project area as well as a Chair person to oversee this exciting process. Although the project team are based here in Hull, there will be several regional hubs to ensure that the entire area has their say, so one of our main priorities is appointing the right people for these key positions.” Carl James, Project Manager of hosting organisation, The Yorkshire and Humber Seafood Group, added: “We were keen to host and support Net Gain, as we have been working closely with those who are affected by the future of the North Sea in our region since 2002, and understand how important their input will be on the project. From a fishing industry perspective, this is great news for the long term sustainability and health of our seas. We feel that we are well-placed to host this project and are keen to ensure that the seafood industry in the region gets behind Net Gain to ensure its success.” Net Gain will be hosting an official launch event at The Deep in Hull on Thursday 1st October from 6:30pm. The project team will then complete a roadshow of events throughout November from Newcastle to Lowestoft to launch the project throughout the project area. ENDS Photo opportunity: Members of the Project Board and the Yorkshire and Humber Seafood Group will be available for photos at the official launch event from 6pm. Interview opportunity: To arrange interviews with any key individuals please contact Dani Sewell using the details below For more information on this media release please contact: Dani Sewell - PR and Communications Officer Net Gain – The North Sea Marine Conservation Zone Project 07500 333990 e: Notes to Editors • The UK Government is committed to establishing by 2012 a strong, ecologically coherent and well managed network of MPAs that is well understood and supported by sea users • By protecting natural habitats and wildlife, MCZs will ensure a healthy and productive future for the region’s seas. • The final North Sea MCZs will have been carefully, transparently and collaboratively planned by those who use the sea. This will ensure that those stakeholders that live and work in and around MCZs will accept and value them. • By the end of 2011, this project will identify and recommend Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) in the North Sea. • Net Gain is a partnership project, which aims to secure a healthy and productive future for the North Sea and its coast line. • Net Gain’s structure is designed to ensure that advice and input from stakeholders and the best available science are integral to the development of the region’s MCZ sites . The Project Team, Stakeholder Advisory Panel, Project Board and National Science Advisory Panel each have a role to play in guiding the project to a successful conclusion • Net Gain is fundamentally about shared decision making. From the earliest planning stages, we are working closely with stakeholders to explore where MCZs could be best located, identifying possible areas of conflict and finding ways to work around them. • Finding MCZ sites, which provide maximum benefits to nature and minimise the impact to stakeholders is central to the success of Net Gain. • The Marine Conservation Zone Project has been established by Defra, Natural England and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee to identify and recommend Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) to Government. The Marine Conservation Zone Project will be delivered through four regional MCZ projects covering the south-west (Finding Sanctuary), Irish Sea (Irish Sea Conservation Zones), North Sea (Net Gain) and south-east (Balanced Seas). These regional MCZ projects will work with sea users and interest groups to identify MCZs and provide recommendations for sites within their regions to Government.