More areas of North Devons coastline will be protected as the Government announces new Marine Conservation Zones. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has today (Sunday) announced 23 new areas of the UK coast which will be awarded environmental protection. Last year the Gazette revealed the two areas had been included in a public consultation to become protected zones. The 8,000 sq miles nationwide include the area from Bideford to Foreland Point near Lynmouth, and from Hartland Point to Tintagel in Cornwall, as two of the zones.Vital we protect our marine environmentMarine environment minister George Eustice announced the site and said: As an island nation, the UK is surrounded by some of the richest and most diverse sea life in the worldfrom the bright pink sea-fan coral colonies off the south-west coast, to the great chalk reef stretches in the east. Its vital that we protect our marine environment to ensure our seas remain healthy, our fishing industry remains prosperous and future generations can enjoy our beautiful beaches, coastline and waters. By designating these new Marine Conservation Zones and creating a Blue Belt of protected areas around the country, we can better protect our environment through careful marine management in years to come. The country currently already has 27 designated MCZs, including around Lundy Island, and a third phase of the project is expected to be consulted on next year.Bideford to Foreland PointThe site between Bideford and Foreland Point will protect a wide range of habitats, from beaches to intertidal sands which are exposed at the low tide. Rock habitats and sediments will also be included, and this MCZ will fill a gap in the network for honeycomb worm reefs, which are formed from the closely-packed sand tubes of the worms colonies. The site will also protect important and vulnerable species such asspiny lobster, and the pink sea-fan coral, which provide homes to other creatures and an attachment for dogfishs mermaids purses eggs.Hartland to TintagelThe site between Hartland Point and Tintagel in Cornwall contains rocky habitats in deeper waters, dominated by creatures such as sponges, anemones and sea-fan corals. The honeycomb worm reefs and pink sea-fan corals are also protected within this site, as with in Bideford to Foreland Point.