Brexit and our seas
Did you know that many of our environmental laws - from how we manage our fisheries, to standards on marine pollution, to how we protect many species and habitats - come from the European Union?
The UK has the third largest coastline in the EU, and our waters and many of the species that dwell within them know no boundaries. Joined up effort with our neighbouring nations must take place if we are to manage our seas well.
With the UK set to leave the EU, it is a priority for MCS to make sure that such a joined up approach continues after the UK leaves the EU, to make sure that we keep improving the management of our seas.
Laws which are currently set at an EU level are being, or will be reviewed to apply at a UK and devolved national level. As a UK based and focussed marine charity, we will work tirelessly to make sure the UK uses this as an opportunity to truly become a world leader and build on the good progress made in many areas of marine management.
Our priorities for UK seas
We need to:
- Ensure new domestic fisheries laws deliver sustainable fisheries.
- Complete an ecologically coherent network of well managed marine protected areas.
- Uphold and effectively implement into UK laws all our obligations under international environmental treaties so that they can be given effect in the laws of England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, and are legally enforceable.
- Continue to take action to reduce marine litter; in particular, implement the circular economy package, plastics strategy and reforms to Port Waste Reception Facilities Directive.
- Protect vulnerable deep sea ecosystems from damaging fishing practices.
What is MCS doing?
We are collaborating with several partners to define what Brexit will mean for our seas, and to devise the best course of action to ensure that our priorities are achieved.
- We made our recommendations clear with this letter, sent to all major UK political parties shortly after last year’s snap election (June 2017).
- We sent a letter on “UK fisheries and the marine environment after we exit the EU” to Defra ministers (July 2017).
- We provided parties with details of the Greener UK manifesto, which we support alongside many partner charities.
- Worked in a coalition with other charities to develop this briefing “Delivering sustainable fisheries management, A sustainable future for UK seas”..
- Worked in coalition with the Greener UK Fisheries and Aquaculture Pillar to develop this briefing “Essential elements of sustainable fisheries management” and a series of more detailed parliamentary briefings.
- Working in coalition with the Greener UK Fisheries and Aquaculture Pillar, we helped develop these case studies to help highlight key elements that the proposed new Fisheries Bill needs to address.
- We actively work in coalition with Wildlife and Countryside Link in England, Welsh Environment Link, Scottish Environment Link, and the Northern Irish Marine Task Force where we have helped develop various briefings and recommendations for Brexit.
- Responded to the Labour Party consultation on Brexit and fisheries.
- Have been regularly meeting with civil servants and Ministers from England, Scotland and Wales to provide advice and recommendations and ask pertinent questions about future management arrangements.
- Responded to a consultation on the government’s proposed Environmental Principles and Governance after EU Exit.
- Marine Conservation Society’s submission to Defra to highlight the importance of protecting the deep sea post Brexit
- Marine Conservation Society’s submission to the Defra consultation on its White Paper: Sustainable Fisheries for Future Generations
- Respond to any consultations on the recently announced new Environment Bill.
- Respond to the consultation on the Government’s ‘Sustainable Fisheries for Future Generations’ document (the Government White Paper outlining post-Brexit plans for fisheries management) where, amongst other things, we are concerned that the brand new Fisheries Bill will not include important environmental objectives. More here.
- Encourage the public to respond to this important, once in a generation, consultation.
- Continue to work in coalition with the charities on the Greener UK Fisheries and Aquaculture Pillar and the various Environment Links of the United Kingdom, to develop agreed positions and provide joint briefings and submissions.
- Continue to meet with civil servants and UK Ministers and the devolved administrations to provide advice and recommendations and ask key questions about future management arrangements.
- Keep working with the North Sea and North Western Waters Advisory Councils to provide fisheries management advice to the EU Commission and regional Member States, especially on any Brexit related advice developed.
- Continue to engage the public and encourage them to support and call for better managed UK seas and and sustainable fisheries and responsible aquaculture (see the Good Fish Guide).
- Continue to work with OSPAR to ensure that the Regional Action Plan on marine litter is also implemented in the UK.
- Work to make sure any new regulatory body has powers and “teeth” to ensure environmental laws and standards are upheld and more effective in future.