Marine Matters for UK Government

Richard Harrington By: Richard Harrington
Date posted: 20 April 2010

Marine Matters for UK Government The next few years will be critical for the protection of our seas.

Marine Matters for UK Government The next few years will be critical for the protection of our seas. MCS will be working with the new Government to ensure that our oceans and coasts are a priority. MCS has three priorities it would like to see the Government working towards - to protect 30% of our seas from all damaging activities in new Marine Protected Areas, to push for radical reform of the Common Fisheries Policy and to take action on marine litter starting with a Marine Litter Action Plan. MCS Senior Policy Officer, Melissa Moore, says “There is already cross-party co-operation on marine conservation following joint working on the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009, so MCS hopes that both the coalition government and the opposition will continue to work together for the protection of our seas.” Richard Benyon MP is the new Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Natural Environment and Fisheries - in effect the “Marine Minister”. His portfolio can be found at Mr Benyon tabled marine conservation amendments to the Marine Bill during it’s passage through parliament last year and MCS will be ensuring he keeps marine conservation issues at the top of his agenda. Prior to forming a coalition with the Liberal Democrats, the Tories told MCS they believed it was essential to ensure the implementation of the Marine Bill with the maximum involvement of all interested parties, including coastal residents, marine scientists, the fishing industry and conservationists. They, along with the Lib Dems, agreed reform of the CFP was vital, and said they planned to promote sustainable sea food using the MCS ‘Fish to avoid’ list as a benchmark. The Conservatives also agreed that something had to be done about beach and marine litter and said they intended to urge the Marine Management Organisation to work with the Environment Agency and charities like MCS to takle the issue. The Liberal Democrats echoed many of these commitments in their own pre-election manifesto. Melissa Moore says: “The coalition Government should keep in mind that there is enormous public support for marine conservation. In a two week period the Co-operative Group survey of customers found over 527,000 supported Marine Reserves. Shoppers have also been voting with their feet for more sustainable fish. We now have the Marine Act, but we need Government to be strong on marine issues to ensure it is properly implemented.”

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