New legislation to protect England's sea life and habitats environment has received Royal Assent. The Marine and Coastal Access Act will create a new marine planning system designed to bring together the conservation, social and economic needs of our seas. A network of Marine Conservation Zones will be created that will protect rare and threatened species and habitats. Four regional projects have started working with local groups and businesses to identify which areas will be designated as Marine Conservation Zones. Businesses will also benefit from a more streamlined consenting and licensing system through the creation of the Marine Management Organisation. A new range of sanctions will also provide a more flexible approach to marine environment enforcement. Environment Secretary Hilary Benn said: "Our waters are some of the busiest in the world. The new marine planning system will ensure we make space in our seas for all its users and protect our underwater wildlife so that it will flourish in the years to come. Half of England's wildlife and habitats are found under the waters around our shores. We know that our blue spaces face the same pressures from climate change as our green spaces � we just can't see it. The Marine Conservation Zones created by this groundbreaking Act will therefore recognise that the wildlife and habitats in our seas are just as important as those on the land." A single coastal path around England will also be established so people can enjoy the benefits of the coastline. The first section to be completed will be in Weymouth where the sailing events for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games will be held. The Act also includes new systems for managing and protecting coastal and marine waters through: � the establishment of a new Marine Management Organisation which will be a centre of marine expertise; � a new marine planning system which will enable a more strategic approach to be taken to the use of our seas; � a simpler more streamlined marine licensing system; � reform of inshore fisheries management; and � better management for migratory and freshwater fisheries.