By Jessica Aldred

Conservationists say 48 new protected areas are needed to fill the gaps in the ‘blue belt’ coastal network to ensure wildlife can flourish

Conservationists have called for the creation of a further 48 protected areas in English waters that would “fill in the gaps” of a national network designed to ensure healthy and productive seas.

If designated, they would add to the 50 existing marine conservation zones (MCZs) and create an “ecologically coherent network” where habitats and wildlife could flourish, according to a report from the Wildlife Trusts.