Monday, 12 May 2008

The Marine Bill: A change in the right direction or just another consultation

The draft Marine Bill published sets out radical plans for a new network of marine conservation zones around Britain’s coast. The aim of the marine bill hopes that the nature reserves around the UK will have clear conservation objectives, to protect habitats and species of national importance, ensuring that some types of fishing, dredging or other forms of development do not damage them.

The draft bill also includes new systems for managing and protecting our coastal and marine waters through:

  • A new UK-wide marine planning system, which will enable us to set a clear direction for how we are going to manage our seas and make the best use of marine resources;
  • Simpler licensing of marine developments, for example, offshore wind farms; and
  • Improved management of marine and inland fisheries.

Under the proposed marine bill, a new Marine Management Organisation, a centre of marine excellence, will be created to regulate development and activity at sea and enforce environmental protection laws. The draft will also allow migratory and freshwater fisheries to benefit from modernised and more flexible powers. These will give the Environment Agency the tools to better manage fisheries for the benefit of anglers and commercial fishers. However, The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) is extremely disappointed that the Queen’s Speech in 2007 only included a commitment to produce a draft Marine Bill, not a full Marine Bill. Melissa Moore, a MCS Senior Policy Officer said “A draft Marine Bill will amount to little more than another consultation, and we have already had two. The Government needs to speed up this process if it is to meet its manifesto commitment for a Marine Act before the next election.” A Marine Bill is urgently needed to deliver a marine planning system that will enable sustainable development of industries such as marine renewables and the designation of Marine Protected Areas. At present less than 0.001 per cent of our seabed is fully protected and there is currently no legislation to govern their protection

For more information on the current Marine Bill campaign click here

No comments: