The work is part of the Welsh Government’s commitment to clean, safe, and biologically diverse seas, and sets out ten potential site options within Welsh waters for consideration as highly protected Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs).
Following a thorough and staged consultation process, three to four sites are expected to be selected from the site options.
Speaking about the proposals, the Environment Minister said:
“The Welsh Government now has greater powers to protect Wales’ important marine environment.
“We plan to use these new powers to strengthen and supplement our existing marine protected areas in Wales with new Marine Conservation Zones.
“This will mean a small number of sites being given a highly protected status so that we can allow those sites to function as naturally as possible.
“The idea is that this approach will maximise the contribution that the areas make to ecosystem recovery and resilience and will help us to develop our understanding of how ecosystems naturally function.
“This consultation is about ensuring that we select the best sites for highly protected status. We want to gather as much information and opinion as possible so that we can make the best decisions for Wales and its marine environment."
The process that has been used to identify the potential site options is new and focuses on how the whole site contributes to the marine environment and ecosystem recovery.
This is the first of three consultation phases to decide which of the sites should be designated. The consultation will run from 19 April to 31 July.