Thursday, 19 November 2009

Marine and Coastal Access Bill 2009

Dr Kathryn Turner, Irish Sea Advocacy Officer for the North West Wildlife Trusts, has written to us with her comments on the new Marine and Coastal Access Bill, which received Royal Assent on 12th November and has now passed into UK law.

"This is great news for the species and habitats of our Irish sea. The future of marine species is intimately tied to what happens in the sandy muds of our local sea, and this new act will provide a statutory duty to protect representatives of all our marine habitats.

The act does this by allowing the designation of a set of marine conservation zones (MCZs). These will be placed to give all our marine habitats some protection. Each site will be placed because that area is a high quality example of one of these habitats. But each site will be managed differently. In very important and rare habitats there may be high protection (Highly Protected Marine Conservation Zones or HPMCZs) which means that little or no commercial activity is allowed. In many sites, some, but not all, activity will be allowed and possibly in some sites, all activity will be allowed. The marine bill states that where these sites have other key users, the socioeconomic factors may be taken into account.

We strongly support the designation of highly protected sites (HPMCZ) which will give our sea bed communities the best chance to recover from historical damage and allow the Irish sea to become a truly vibrant living sea once again. This will allow cuttlefish, sea mice, basking sharks, and countless other Irish sea natives to thrive.

It's a great day for marine life."

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