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York academic to sit on panel looking at Highly Protected Marine Areas

Posted on 22 July 2019

A University of York academic has been asked to sit on an advisory panel to evaluate if Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs) could be introduced off England’s coast.

It is argued that 30% of the world's oceans need protecting by 2030

Professor Callum Roberts will provide expert advice to the Highly Protected Marine Areas review, which was announced in June by the Environment Secretary Michael Gove.

Over the next six months, the panel will evaluate whether to establish a process for selecting Highly Protected Marine Areas, and if supported by the evidence, recommend potential locations for pilot sites.


The review will carefully consider the economic and social impacts on businesses and individuals who use the sea, taking into account the views of a wide range of stakeholders, including fishermen, conservation groups, marine industries, and local communities.

Professor Roberts, from the University’s Department of Environment and Geography, said: “This review represents a hugely welcome development in conservation policy and practice for our seas.

“In other countries that have established highly protected marine areas, there have been vigorous recoveries of depleted species and habitats degraded and damaged by human activities.

“Such protected areas could potentially yield a wide variety of benefits to marine life here, helping rebuild the abundance and variety of life, supporting local livelihoods and community wellbeing, and promoting resilience to climate change and its effects.”

Members of the newly established panel are: 

  • Joan Edwards, Director of Living Seas at The Wildlife Trusts. Joan has substantial experience working on marine issues in the Wildlife Trusts for over 30 years and  led the NGO campaign for the Marine and Coastal Access Act and its implementation.
  • Callum Roberts, Professor of Marine Biology, University of York; Trustee of Nekton Oxford Deep Ocean Research Institute; Trustee and Chief Scientific Advisor to the Blue Marine Foundation; Member of WWF-UK’s Council of Ambassador.
  • Michel Kaiser, Professor of Fisheries Conservation, Heriot Watt University, Edinburgh. Previously, Michel was the Science & Standards Director for the Marine Stewardship Council which works to move fisheries to greater sustainability.
  • Nathan de Rozarieux, inshore fisherman and fisheries consultant. Nathan has been a Board Member of Sea Fish Industry Authority since 2018 and was a committee member of the Cornwall Inshore Fisheries Conservation Authority.
  • Susan Owens OBE, Emeritus Professor of Environment; Policy and Fellow Emerita of Newnham College, Cambridge. Susan was part of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution that produced the ‘Turning the Tide’ report which addressed the impact of fisheries on the marine environment.
  • Peter Barham, facilitator for the Seabed User and Developer Group, a representative group of UK marine industries. Peter has over 20 years’ experience as a senior manager in public and private sectors delivering environmental and sustainable development solutions.
  • Benj Sykes, UK Country Manager, Ørsted’s Offshore wind business; Co-chair, Offshore Wind Industry Council with the Energy Minister. Benj is also on the Board of RenewableUK

New Highly Protected Marine Areas, which would complement the existing network of 91 Marine Conservation Zones, could help protect England’s precious coastline by protecting specific areas from any human activity with the potential to cause harm.

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