Talking on water: Minister outlines marine policy

Defra Minister Huw Irranca-Davies has described how Government policy aims to steer a path between the oft-competing needs of those who use the sea and the marine life it harbours.

Speaking at Coastal Futures 2010, a conference organised by CMS, the Minister outlined the thinking behind the Marine & Coastal Access Act and how it sought to take a more joined-up approach to all aspects of the marine environment, from planning to conservation, managing fish stocks to leisure activities.

He said the act marked a step change in marine policy that would allow for much better co-ordination and provided a robust legal framework for decision making.

"What this means in simple terms is better management of our marine resources across government," he said.

"The challenge in a nutshell is striking a balance between conserving the environment and sustaining livelihoods.

"It always has been, it's more acute now than ever. We simply can't afford to get it wrong; not just from an environmental point of view, but from an economic and social point of view as well."

The Marine and Coastal Access Act was passed in November, 2009 and is a vast piece of legislation, covering everything from the management of fish stocks to establishing a public footpath that will meander along the entire length of Britain's coastline.

It also allows for marine conservation zones to be set up and takes a more strategic approach to offshore planning.

The minister's full speech can be viewed here

Sam Bond



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