Draft Marine Bill

marksimonbrown mark at tlio.org.uk
Tue Apr 8 17:27:34 BST 2008

Last week, the government published details of its long-awaited draft
marine bill, the main parts of which are to create a network of new
marine nature reserves which will protect endangered species and
habitats along Britain's coastline, as well as making coastal regions
more accessible to the public.

The Ramblers' Association welcomes the new Draft Marine Bill for its
commitment to opening up access to more of Britain's coastline. The
proposals are based upon recommendations by Natural England for a
coastal corridor that will enable the general public to walk in a
continuous line all the way round the coast.

However, environmentalists and conservationists have claimed that the
measures won't go far enough in protecting marine wildlife and coastal
habitats. The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) is calling for the UK
Marine Bill to be toughened up with measures and powers to establish a
network of highly protected marine reserves where marine life is fully
protected from damaging activities. Critics cite the fact that the
stipulation that the network of marine conservation zones will have
clear goals to ensure that some types of fishing, dredging or other
forms of development do not damage protected habitats and species of
national importance does not go far enough. [From the Guardian
Newspaper: The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) said it appeared to
be a rehash of existing laws, and did not put "ocean recovery" at its
heart. Simon Brockington, head of conservation at the MCS, said: "Our
seas are in a thoroughly run-down state, as can be seen from the
collapse of our fisheries, and it's about time the government
recognised the consequences of its actions over the last three or four

The concern is that the Bill in its current form does not make a
strong enough commitment to the establishment of an effective network
of Highly Protected Marine Reserves, or provide the necessary powers
for the relevant bodies to prohibit damaging activities, rather than
just restricting or managing them.

`The piece-meal management of existing so-called `protected areas'
such as Special Areas of Conservation does not adequately protect our
valuable marine wildlife. Some of these sites allow practices such as
scallop dredging, beam trawling, gillnetting and dredging to damage
our marine environment" said Dr Jean-Luc Solandt, MCS Biodiversity
Policy Officer.

In terms of access to coastline, the National Farmers' Union have
expressed their disappointed with the government's decision on opening
coastal areas and questioned whether there was sufficient cash for the
scheme, citing how local authorities being underresourced will mean
costs for signage, etc, will have to be met by the landowner.

The bill puts the main countryside quango, Natural England, in charge
of this, with an estimated budget of £5m annually for the first 10
years negotiating local deals.

1. "Network of marine reserves planned for UK coastline", by Jessica
Aldred, Thursday April 3 2008, The Guardian

2. Marine Conservation Society Press Release - Fri 4th April 2008
"Marine Conservation Society Demands Stronger Protection Measures From
Today's Draft Uk Marine Bill"
Ref: http://www.mcsuk.org/newsevents/press_view/213

3. Ramblers' Association Press Release - 3rd April. Ref:

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