BIOLOGISTS in Weymouth have launched a national campaign to secure 127 marine conservation zones around the country’s coast.

Sea Life centres nationwide are aiming to collect 250,000 postcards from visitors to back proposals to create special reserves on almost a third of the country’s coastline.

Chris Brown and Emily Madge, biologists at Weymouth Sea Life centre, launched the appeal by posting the first card in Weymouth Bay.

Weymouth appeal coordinator Kate Buss said that fight was started amid fears that the Government may only approve a handful of sites.

She said: “The government is about to start debating the proposed new marine conservation zones.

“Restrictions on fishing and other activities would benefit many species, including the now critically endangered European eel, the red-listed undulate ray and native spiny seahorses.

“The sites recommended amount to only 27 per cent of English waters.

“But there are fears that ministers will bow to pressure from marine industry lobbyists and approve only a handful.

“We plan to have a small army of schoolchildren deliver the postcards to Westminster in the New Year.”

Visitors to the Sea Life Park in Weymouth and centres nationwide are being asked to register their backing for the creation of the full network of 127 protected areas by filling in a postcard and dropping it into a box.

Wildlife groups, fishing interests and sea users have also been consulted about the proposal for the zones.

The Marine Conservation Society, which was involved in the consultation, is also concerned.

Spokesman Dr Jean Luc Solandt said: “There are fears that ministers will miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make a real difference to the future of our seas, and approve only a small handful of these sites.

“The British public must tell the government that we want all 127 proposed marine conservation zones designated as a matter of priority.”

Marine scientists agree that between 20 and 40 per cent of UK waters need protecting to allow depleted fish stocks to recover from years of over-exploitation.

The proposed havens would allow hundreds of native sea creatures to live and breed.