AMBITIOUS new plans to protect marine birdlife in the Solent area have been announced by the government.

Environment minister Rebecca Pow said new special protection areas, designated to protect rare and vulnerable seabirds from human activity, such as fishing or outdoor recreation, will be created in the waters surrounding the Isle of Wight.

The Solent is one of the most important regions in the country for birds, such as the common tern, for foraging and during the breeding season.

Ms Pow said: “The UK continues to be a world leader in cutting carbon emissions and pushing for greater protections for marine life around our coast and in the global ocean.

“As the devastating impacts of climate change are only too visible, it is vital we take decisive steps now that make a real difference to help protect our wildlife and allow vulnerable species to recover.

“We have already protected important nesting sites for seabirds, such as the little tern, and these new and additional protections to their feeding grounds, together with the development of a new strategy to protect our seabirds, will help the coastal environment recover, develop and, importantly, thrive.”

Welcoming the news, Isle of Wight MP Bob Seely said: "The coastal waters around the Island provide some unique and important habitat for the UK seabird population which is of global importance.

"I welcome this news that provides additional protection for them.

“Yet again we have earned another environmental designation that both highlights the Island’s wonderful ecology and provides much-needed protection for our wildlife.”

Martin Harper, director of global conservation at the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, said: “Many seabird species are declining at an alarming rate, both globally and across the UK.

"We welcome today’s announcement by the government to reverse these declines through a comprehensive Seabird Conservation Strategy.

“It will be a first step in tackling this growing problem and is something that the RSPB has been calling for. We look forward to working with the UK Government to make sure that these islands remain globally important for seabirds.”