Defra to attempt difficult balancing act at sea

The Government has announced plans to protect marine ecosystems as well as the industries and communities that rely on the sea.

In a joint report Defra and the devolved administrations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland said they are committed to working towards clean, healthy, safe, productive, and biologically diverse oceans and seas.

The report outlines how they intend to pull off this difficult balancing act and reconcile the competing needs of wildlife, fishermen, environmentalists and oil riggers to name but a few.

It responds to 16 key recommendations made in the Review of Marine Nature Conservation.

The report points out that the administrations are already carrying out much of the work recommended in the review.

"The UK recognises that it needs to manage human activities in the marine area based on a better understanding of marine ecosystems and their environmental limits," said a Government statement.

"The response also affirms the UK's commitment to developing networks of marine protected areas to conserve marine biodiversity, as well as setting out new strategic goals for marine nature conservation, and outlining a new holistic approach to meeting these, based on the development of marine ecosystem objectives."

In addition, it sets out how the UK will use wider marine management regimes, including spatial planning, to meet its sustainable development objectives.

Ben Bradshaw, Defra's Marine and Fisheries Minister said: "Pressures on the marine environment are growing, with industries like energy, aggregates and fisheries increasingly looking to use the same areas of sea.

"As a result, it's more important than ever that our seas are properly managed to ensure that they can continue to support these economic activities and the communities which depend upon them, while preserving the high quality marine environment that society wants."

The Review of Marine Nature Conservation was completed in 2004 by a working group comprising of environmental, industry and Government representatives. The group was tasked with looking at how the UK can improve marine wildlife conservation.

By Sam Bond



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