Representatives from the business, science, local government, conservation agencies, and NGOs gathered on Friday to take the next step towards the establishment of a National Marine Park off Plymouth.
A boat trip on Friday for representatives around Plymouth Sound in warm September sunshine preceded a ceremony at the Lord Mayor's residence at which a Statement of Intent for the National Marine Park was signed.
Anglers, recreational sailors, commercial fishers, port operations, the Naval dockyard, strollers on the waterfront - many of the various uses of the estuary and coastal waters were on display, all set against the abundant natural beauty for which Plymouth Sound is famous.
People and marine environment in Plymouth Sound, the site of the new National Marine Park.
Less well-known is the abundance and diversity of Plymouth's marine environment - a situation that the National Marine Park aims to address. Matt Frost, Deputy Director of the MBA and Head of Policy said: "The Marine Biological Association exists to represent and promote marine biology and the marine environment. For over 100 years we have been monitoring and studying the marine environment here and promoting the value of Plymouth Sound, and we see the National Marine Park as a key mechanism to engage the public with this fantastic resource."
Too many people still consider that interesting and colourful marine life is found 'somewhere else'. The National Marine Park will raise awareness that the biodiversity on our doorstep is amazing and important internationally, ranging from habitats such as seagrass beds to charismatic species such as sharks, corals and seahorses."
If you mention the Lake District or Dartmoor, people can instantly picture what you are talking about, thanks to National Park status. We want the National Marine Park to have the same impact."
The significance of the move was summed up by the leader of Plymouth City Council, Tudor Evans OBE, who said: "Plymouth, with its historic waterfront, rich maritime heritage, cutting edge marine research and its diversity of sea life is ideally placed to lead the way to create something of significant value locally that can be used to lead the way nationally."
Positive vibes: Keith Hiscock MBA Associate Fellow (left), Charles Clover, author of The end of the line and Executive director of Blue Marine Foundation, which has partnered with Plymouth City Council to support the bid for a National Marine Park (centre), and Tom Appleby, Blue Marine Foundation Trustee (right), on a cruise around Plymouth Sound prior to the signing of the National Marine Park Declaration of Intent.