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 UK MARINE PROTECTED AREAS


Whenever I start talking to my friends about environmental designations. their eyes quickly glaze over. They do not understand the difference between UK and European regulations, or even the difference between statutory agencies  and NGOs. And they don’t really care.


So, during the consultation on the Marine Act I suggested the idea of an ‘envelope’ that might be called a Marine Protected Area into which all the statutory mechanics could be parked, almost out of sight of the public. The idea was that it would place an obligation on the statutory bodies to explain in language that the general public could understand

-   why the area is valued

-   what risks exist

-   what the public should do in  order to assist protection

-   what actions would add to risks, and are therefore to be avoided

-   any enforcement measures in place, and who implements them


Consideration should also be given to adding information about such areas to electronic charts and other media apps. This would have to be done in such a way that this information could be suppressed so as not to detract from the  primary purpose of the electronic information (e,g, navigational charts where the primary purpose is navigational safety).


Providing information to sea users who would not (in the normal course of events) have access to electronic devices (e.g. canoeists, speedboat and pwc drivers) needs further consideration.


All this was discussed in a Dept of the Environment (now DEFRA) committee prior to the Marine Act (in the late 1990s), but progress to date has been almost non -existent.


My discussions with appropriate agencies and companies in the Marine Industry have indicated a willingness to cooperate if (and only if) they are given a clear lead by government.


Sadly the MPA concept has been used to create a bureaucratic tick box monitoring system. There is some advice on the Natural England website MPA pages, but much of it was aimed at environmental professionals and is almost opaque to the general sea users. The Solent European Marine Site advice for example is 127 pages littered with latin species names.


Surely they could do better?

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