WWF hits at further delay for Marine Bill – Fishupdate.com

WWF hits at further delay for Marine Bill Published:  06 November, 2007

WWF said today our seas have been dealt a blow by the UK Government with the prospect of further delay on a Marine Bill.

The conservation grouping said that today’s inclusion of a draft Marine Bill in the 2007-8 legislative programme shows little progress by the Government on introducing much-needed holistic legislation to protect our seas, despite it being a pledge in their 2005 election manifesto.

Now the UK’s seas which are almost three times the size of our land

mass, and contain half of the UK’s wildlife face further deterioration

and decline.

Sally Bailey, Marine Manager at WWF-UK said: “The neglect of our seas has to stop now. The Queen announced a Draft Marine Bill in May 2005 but over two years have passed and all we have seen is further decline in our seas. Environmental groups, other political parties, and the general public are all in agreement that we need to introduce a Marine Bill as soon as possible, so it’s hugely disappointing to see further unnecessary delay.”

WWF say UK seas have been crying out for a Marine Bill. Without it nationally important species and habitats are suffering. Less than one per cent of the UK marine environment is currently offered any level of protection from human activities. Research by WWF has shown that of 16 key marine species and habitats, 13 are in decline including the harbour porpoise, common skate and native oyster. A Marine Bill will enable the Governmentto designate a national network of Marine Conservation Zones, reducing the pressures put upon these species and habitats,the grouping added.

The Marine Bill is also, they say, the missing piece of the jigsaw, needed to fit alongside the planned Climate Change Bill, Planning Reform Bill, and Energy Bill. It is essential if the UK is to make the most of its offshore renewable energy potential as it will enable a proper marine planning system to be put in place that will vastly improve and speed up the planning process for offshore renewable energy development. This planning system is urgently needed for the Government to reach its commitments to national and international CO2 emissions reduction targets. Developers need certainty that they can develop through an efficient licensing system and conservationists need certainty that habitats will be protected whilst such developments go ahead.

Bailey added: “This is a particularly crucial time to look to UK seas, as they are facing the global environmental challenge of climate change as well as the continuing pressures of human activities. The Government may have taken some positive steps with the Climate Change Bill, but it has nonetheless missed out a vital piece of environmental legislation.”

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