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UK Marine Bill Clouded by Doubts

UK - World Wildlife Fund (WWF)-UK has called upon the government to provide protection for UK seas, believing that this may be compromised by recent proposals.

WWF-UK says that the government has given promising indications for the establishment of marine conservation zones in its response to pre-legislative scrutiny and public consultation on the draft Marine Bill. However, the conservation organisation is not yet convinced that the government's approach is strong enough.

"Our seas need to be managed as a single ecological unit and marine plans must therefore be developed for all waters."
Dr Simon Walmsley, Head of Marine at WWF-UK

Dr Simon Walmsley, Head of Marine at WWF-UK says: "We are pleased that the government will be including a statutory duty on Minister's to designate a network of marine protected areas and intend to report on this progress by 2012. However the Government's commitment to introducing an effective marine planning system is still weak. We are not yet convinced that what we have here is a holistic approach to wider marine planning that will deliver effective marine protected areas and the sustainable use of marine resources."

Dr Simon Walmsley says "Our seas need to be managed as a single ecological unit and marine plans must therefore be developed for all waters. What is currently lacking from the government are the tools that will make the UK Marine Bill work across political borders. We simply cannot have one policy for England and offshore waters and different and unrelated ones for Scottish, Welsh, and Northern Irish waters if we are to successfully deliver protection for all of UK seas."

WWF welcomes further clarity today on the role of the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) and its relationship with other bodies that will deliver marine functions. WWF believes that the MMO should take a key role in delivering sustainable resource use in UK waters and hopes to work with the government to ensure that this is a strong feature in the Bill.

Dr Simon Walmsley adds, "Whilst there are still issues to be ironed out, we welcome the government's action towards making the Marine Bill a reality and hope this will lead to its inclusion in this years Queen's Speech and its rapid introduction into Parliament."