MPA Inquiry Report says Government must show more commitment to protecting English seas

Richard Harrington By: Richard Harrington
Date posted: 20 June 2014

MPA Inquiry Report says Government must show more commitment to protecting English seas Report must act as a wake up call says MCS We welcome the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee’s Marine Protected Area Inquiry Report, published today.

MPA Inquiry Report says Government must show more commitment to protecting English seas Report must act as a wake up call says MCS We welcome the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee’s Marine Protected Area Inquiry Report, published today. But the findings must act as a wake up call, with more action and commitment needed by Government if it is to remain true to its original intent to establish a world class network of marine protected areas around the UK. The Government’s measures for protecting sea life in Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) come under scrutiny in the report, which found that less than a quarter of recommended sites have been designated, and that inadequate enforcement provisions have been put in place. MCS campaigned for the designation of a full network of 127 originally-proposed sites in 2013 and supports the report’s two key themes: firstly, that Government needs to show evidence that its stated commitment to deliver a full network is still intact by outlining ambitious recommendations for the 2nd tranche of MCZs, due to be announced next year; and that measures are needed to ensure that management of those already designated is underpinned by clear legislation. MCS’s Senior Policy Officer Melissa Moore, who gave evidence to the Committee, says: “We welcome the Committee’s call for the Government to include more MCZs in the 2nd tranche. Ambitious proposals are needed to ensure we deliver a network that will foster the recovery of our seas and the vast goods and services it provides. Ø “The recommendation to put management measures on a statutory footing is vital. Effective local collaboration is important to engender understanding and compliance, but the processes must be underwritten by a regulatory fail-safe. Otherwise the good work of many can be undermined by a minority, with no form of redress for those involved, or indeed our marine environment. Ø The Committee has recommended: “To demonstrate to all sides that it is committed to the environmental protection of our seas, it should front-load the selection of further MCZs so that more fall in that next tranche of designations. It should follow an environmental precautionary principle approach to designations, based if need be on é’best available’ data rather than the fuller é’robust’ data that it has sought so far. Ø “The management of Marine Conservation Zones needs an underpinning of enforceable statutory regulation. But compliance with the protections planned for the MCZs is likely to be greater where voluntary agreements have also been introduced. This is the second unequivocal cross-party demonstration of support for the UK network, following the 2013 Science and Technology Committee’s Marine Science Inquiry. -

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