VEGA supports the draft Marine Bill in a Defra consultation
VEGA's response to the Defra consultation on the draft Marine Bill follows:
We congratulate DEFRA on the draft Marine Bill. It usefully reinforces public access to shorelines and restricts untoward building developments and factory-style food and power production.
Protection of shores, whether of the sea, estuaries, rivers or lakes, and barriers, flood-plains, wetlands, and marshes deserve attention that the proposed Bill will usefully stimulate and direct.
We believe that protection and conservation of the marine environment should take precedence over commercial operations. Despite its size, the marine environment is fragile and activities such as fishing, oil extraction and discharge of waste and effluents can have a devastating effect on wildlife and the marine ecology.
We welcome the creation of the Marine Management Organisation – this should provide better integration of activities such as planning, licensing, management, oversight and enforcement.
We support the creation of a planning system that makes planning within a long-term strategy of sustainability possible. Simplification of the licensing system should result in better decisions being taken and not to less stringent licensing terms and conditions.
Whilst we strongly support creation of Marine Conservation Zones and the protection of individual habitats and species, we believe that conservation should take precedence in ALL parts of the marine ecosystem. Due to the highly complex and fluid ecosystems present, damage to one part of the marine environment (eg by pollution or over-fishing) can easily have impacts elsewhere.
We welcome creation of Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities on the assumption that combining the fishing and conservation functions will result in less-harmful fishing activities and better protection of marine wildlife and ecology.
We support the creation of a better enforcement system, including better inspection and investigation powers and the availability of a range of sanctions and penalties, in addition to prosecution.