The Marine And Coastal Access Bill
The Marine and Coastal Access Bill, due to come into effect later this year, will cover a new planning system for the marine environment that would have powers pertaining to issues such as jetty and wind farm construction, the licensing and management of marine, migratory, freshwater and shellfish fisheries, coastal access and nature conservation in England. (It will not, however, cover oil and gas development issues.)
The Marine and Coastal Access Bill, proposes to support marine conservation through four key areas which the government describes in the following way:Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs)
One of the objectives of the Bill is the creation of a series of MCZs by 2012, designed to protect threatened species and habitats.Marine planning
The Bill will create a strategic marine planning system ensuring that cumulative impacts on wildlife and habitats are taken into account. Modernised sea fisheries legislation
Fisheries and environmental management arrangements will be reformed by the Bill so that more effective action can be taken to conserve marine ecosystems and help achieve a sustainable and profitable fisheries sector. A new management body called the Marine Management Organisation (MMO)
The MMO will be a centre of marine expertise, provide a consistent and unified approach, deliver improved coordination of information and data and reduce administrative burdens to ensure sustainable marine development.
WDCS is working with a number of other organisations as part of Wildlife and Countryside Link to ensure that the Marine and Coastal Access Bill fulfils a desperate need to protect the UK’s wildlife. Currently there is little legislation to protect the UK’s whales and dolphins from threats like offshore industrial development, noise pollution, entanglement in fisheries gear, coastal developments that encroach important habitats and more.
WDCS was pleased to see its calls over a large number of years for better provision for marine conservation in UK waters begin to take shape in the ‘Marine Bill’. However, we are concerned generally that many of the provisions of the Bill now passing through the various stages in parliament are not strong enough and we are particularly disappointed that the current provisions for MCZs are not strong enough. We are also concerned that some important marine activities are being excluded from the provisions of the Bill, most notably oil and gas exploration and exploitation. A truly integrated approach to marine conservation and management of marine activities would include these.
An important Early Day Motion (EDM) was ‘laid down’ in Parliament in December calling for a network of highly protected marine reserves (HPMRs) off the UK coastline. WDCS is calling urgently on its supporters and friends to encourage their MPs to sign onto this Early Day Motion which is number EDM 337.
An Early Day Motion is a way in which MPs show their support for particular causes and if enough MPs sign on this also triggers a debate in parliament. You can read the full wording and check if your MP has signed it here
. If your MP has not signed up yet, contact them and ask them to sign on.