MPA Fishing Coalition Welcomes Minister’s Revised MCZ Timetable

17th November 2011 in MPAs

The MPA Fishing Coalition has welcomed UK Fisheries Minister, Richard Benyon’s announcement that further time will be allowed to designate a network of marine conservation zones in UK waters, to allow additional time to collect evidence on their location and boundaries.

Coalition Chairman, Dr. Stephen Lockwood, said: “We have supported the establishment of a network of marine protected areas but it has to be done properly. The unrealistic timetable that the Government set for itself ran the danger that the MPAs would be set up on the basis of inadequate evidence. This could have had consequences for their effectiveness and for how defensible they would be, especially in a European context. There is absolutely no point setting up a series of “paper parks” that serve no purpose but to tick some box.”

“It is absolutely right that the Government takes some more time to gather the necessary evidence to ensure that the whole process is soundly based.”

“It is also important to remember that outside the 6 mile limit MCZs will be meaningless if they don’t apply to all fleets, UK and non-UK fishing there. This means that they will require support from other member states and that will not be forthcoming unless there is sound evidence that they MCZs are protecting what they say they are protecting.”

“We also welcome the Minister’s phased approach to designation. A big bang approach might be attractive from a PR perspective but increases the risk of getting it wrong. This should be about soundly based decisions and a phased approach is consistent with that.”

“The MPA Coalition will continue to engage with the Government’s statutory advisors on conservation, Defra, and the devolved administrations to ensure that the fishing industry in all its diversity is fully taken into account in the process of setting up MCZs. A less frenetic timetable will allow sensible approaches to complex issues such as the displacement of fishing vessels from their customary fishing grounds to emerge.”