New report says Welsh Government must show greater leadership to protect seas

A National Assembly Committee has stressed the need for the Welsh Government to give “urgent” attention to Marine Protected Areas in Wales

A new report published today by the National Assembly’s Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee is welcomed by the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) who call on Welsh Government to seriously up its game on Marine Protected Area management in Wales.

Welsh coasts and seas are home to several iconic species such as the harbour porpoise, bottlenose dolphin and Atlantic puffin.

Although 69% of Welsh inshore waters have been designated as protected areas, their management to date has not been sufficient to protect all the various species and habitats that they are intended to protect.

The report recommends that the Welsh Government must provide better leadership to ensure that all management authorities, including the Welsh Government, are actively engaged in managing Marine Protected Areas.

The report also found that public bodies are underfunded and struggle to fulfil their responsibilities.

MCS provided both written and verbal evidence to help inform the Committee’s initial inquiry.

Gill Bell, Head of Conservation Wales at the Marine Conservation Society, says: “We are pleased that the report addresses the need for direction and leadership from the Welsh Government to better manage MPAs in Wales.

We have been calling for greater accountability and responsibility from the Welsh Government for many years.

We also welcome a recommendation for the Welsh Government to develop a dedicated Marine Protected Area Strategy to drive marine conservation in Wales”.

Gill Bell continues: “As the report highlights, protected areas cannot be managed effectively without resources, including funding and staffing.

This can only be addressed if marine conservation is prioritised and better integrated into the Cabinet Secretary’s portfolio.

If not, we risk our special areas of sea becoming mere paper parks, losing wildlife and the vast benefit that our seas deliver for people in Wales.”

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