Commitment for UK Marine & Coastal Access Bill Published: 03 December, 2008
Sustainable management of our seas and protection of UK marine species
and habitats has moved a step closer today. In the Queen’s Speech the
Government has committed to introducing a full UK Marine & Coastal
Access Bill in the new Parliamentary session.
WWF-UK, the conservation organisation, was one of the first NGO’s to
call for a Marine Act and is delighted that our seas could finally be
given effective protection from damaging activities.
Natasha Barker, senior marine policy officer at WWF-UK, says: ‘Today
marks a momentous day for UK seas, their precious wildlife and habitats,
and our coastal communities. In the time it’s taken to introduce this
legislation, the impacts of climate change have amplified the many
pressures already taking their toll on marine biodiversity. Now, after
ten years of campaigning, we finally have an opportunity to reverse the decline of our seas and we urge the UK Government to waste no time in introducing the Marine & Coastal Access Bill into Parliament.’
As well as establishing a network of marine protected areas to safeguard nationally important species and habitats such as long-snouted
seahorses and salt marshes, the UK Marine and Coastal Access Bill could simplify the management of our many activities at sea.
In an area like the Solway Firth for example, this would lead to
improved, more integrated management of competing demands such as future offshore renewable energy developments and fisheries activities.
This is important to ensure the balance of the ecosystem is not upset by displacing key species and damaging the seabed. WWF asserts that that new marine plans must extend around the whole of the UK coastline and stretch across the borders between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland if they are to be fully effective in protecting our seas. Natasha Barker adds: ‘The UK Marine & Coastal Access Bill must simplify, not complicate the way we look after our seas. It is critical that the UK Government continues to work with devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to ensure co-ordination across our borders. We must also connect the land and sea to ensure future marine plans take into account terrestrial activities and improve management of our coastline.
The commitment to a UK Marine & Coastal Access Bill is a
As the Bill passes through parliament, we now have a final window of opportunity to influence this legislation and ensure it is truly effective in safeguarding our magnificent seas for years to come. The next few months are going to be critical in shaping the UK and forthcoming Scottish Marine Bills into leading pieces of
legislation for other European countries to follow.’
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