NFFO South West Committee Gains Seat on Finding Sanctuary

13th March 2009 in South West

The NFFO South West Committee has secured a seat on the Steering Group of Finding Sanctuary.

A project charged with designing a network of Marine Conservation Zones MCZs in the South West by 2012. The Committee will use the seat to make representations on behalf of the NFFO South West membership.

Finding Sanctuary is the first of four regional projects in England intended to implement MCZ legislation contained in the Marine Bill that is currently working its way through parliament. The other three projects are currently being established for the Eastern Channel, North Sea, and Irish Sea. MCZs are expected to control the level of human activity within their boundaries to varying degrees ranging from limited restrictions through to highly protected sites.

The NFFO maintain that claims for Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are often ill defined and overblown. Especially for fisheries, MPAs have only marginal relevance to their successful management and direct fleet management will continue to be much more important. What has been lacking in European fisheries has not been a shortage of tools in the tool box but a failure of good governance in applying the tools we do have.

It is regretful that Natural England as conservation advisor to government has on occasion chosen to act as standard bearer to such overblown claims, preceded by sensationalist dogma of impending destruction of our marine environment that does not reflect the trends, certainly in the context of UK waters. Such grandstanding conflicts directly with the regional projects such as Finding Sanctuary, which claim to wish to bring together a wide variety of local stakeholders to plan the MCZ networks under a consensus based approach, and which are supposedly backed by Natural England.

Until hysteria about our marine environment is replaced by considered, objective and evidence based debate there will continue to be unnecessary conflict that only serves to undermine the maintenance and support of sustainable marine livelihoods which NFFO believes must be at the centre of effective marine natural resource policy, but which at present is woefully lacking.