Puffins on Skomer Island
© John Archer Thomson

Your assembly, your sea

Who is responsible for marine management in Wales?

Welsh Government, the devolved Government of Wales, manages Welsh seas. This includes over 870 miles of coastline and an area of sea of 15,000 km2 - almost as much as Wales’ land area. The Welsh Government’s elected Cabinet can make decisions on important management issues out to the limits of Welsh offshore waters. The current Cabinet Secretary for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is Lesley Griffiths AM. She is supported by a Minister for Environment, Hannah Blythyn AM. Find out more about their roles and responsibilities.

Poly cup on beach
© Natasha Ewins

Your Assembly, Your Voice

Your Assembly Members work for you. The National Assembly for Wales is made up of 60 elected Assembly Members who represent the interests of the people living in Wales. They make new laws and, importantly, hold the Welsh Government to account. Wherever you live in Wales, you will be represented by five Assembly Members, one for your local area, and four for your region.

Find out who are your Assembly Members.

Why change is needed now

As of 1st April 2018, the Welsh Government became responsible for Welsh offshore waters (from 12 nautical miles up to the median line). As a result, the Welsh Government are now able to designate Marine Conservation Zones, areas of sea that will protect Wales’ most important offshore marine wildlife. Currently, however, there is no timetable for when this work will begin, and in the meantime important species and habitats remain under threat from damaging human activities.

Further towards the shore, two-thirds of our inshore waters are designated as Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) for their important marine life. However, designation does not equal protection, and current evidence shows that our MPAs are not well managed. A recent public enquiry showed systematic failings by the Welsh Government to effectively fund, prioritise and take leadership to protect these sites. The current conditions of our MPAs needs to be urgently addressed.

The amount of litter that is ending up on our beaches and in our seas is ever increasing, which can entangle, suffocate and slowly kill wildlife. Our Great British Beach Clean 2017 results showed that 677 pieces of litter was collected for every 100m stretch of beach in Wales, which is an increase of 11% on the previous year.

How you can help

You can write to your Assembly Member and ask them to push for action to protect our seas. Some things you might want to consider asking for of Welsh Government:

  1. Provide more resources to restore and protect unique and important marine wildlife,

  2. Designate new Marine Conservation Zones for national critically important marine wildlife, now that it also has powers to manage its offshore Waters,

  3. Commit to reducing the amount of litter ending up in Welsh seas and on Welsh beaches, by supporting a levy on single use plastic items, introducing a Deposit Return System for drinks containers and phasing out the use of polystyrene, replaced with compostable alternatives.

Actions you can take

  1. Help us stop the plastic tide
  2. Download the Great British Beach Clean Report 2019
  3. Discover more about MCS in Wales

Did you know?…

To date, our beach cleans have removed over 11 million pieces of litter

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is thought to be 6 times the size of the UK

Over time, one plastic bottle bobbing along in the ocean can break down in to hundreds of tiny plastic pieces