Wildlife experts are calling for the coastline to become a conservation area.
A report by The Wildlife Trust has named the Durham Heritage Coast, which stretches from Hartlepool to Sunderland, among 48 areas which should be protected and made Marine Conservation Zones, MCZ.
It is an area that should be celebrated and protectedJil Cokill
If designated the areas will become a ecological network of special places where habitats and wildlife can flourish to safeguard healthy and productive seas for the future.
The report has been published in advance of the government’s plans to announce a third and final phase of Marine Conservation Zones – the government plans to consult the public in 2017 and designate the chosen zones in 2018.
The report will be presented to the environment minister, Therese Coffey.
Jim Cokill, Director of Durham Wildlife Trust, said: “The inclusion of the Durham Heritage Coast as one of the 48 areas the Wildlife Trusts are suggesting should be put forward as Marine Conservation Zones demonstrates the importance of this area for wildlife and people.
“The Durham Heritage Coast is strategically located between existing MCZs to the north and south and is an important section of the ecologically coherent network the Wildlife Trusts are trying to achieve.
“The Durham Heritage Coast is an area that shows nature’s powers of recovery from the effects of past industry and is the only place in the country where the underlying magnesian limestone meets the sea.
“It’s an area that should be celebrated and protected. MCZ status would help to ensure that this coastline continues to recover and reach its fullest potential.”
Joan Edwards, The Wildlife Trusts’ Head of Living Seas, said: “This is an unprecedented opportunity to create an effective network of protected areas at sea.
“If the government lives up to its stated commitments such a network would put us at the forefront of worldwide marine conservation.
“Designating these 48 wild havens as Marine Conservation Zones would go some way to guaranteeing a future for the extraordinarily diverse natural landscapes that exist beneath the
waves off our coast.”