David Levy – Lessons to be learnt – Dec 16

Recently our Life President and former Chairman of Marinet, Pat Gowen, wrote to us about his experiences with the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) and the government agencies which were its forerunner. The changeover in these agencies is possibly a bureaucratic way to shift responsibility, and delay change whilst the new agency beds down.

Certainly the over-lapping responsibility for management of Marine Conservation Zones (MCZsMCZ Marine Conservation Zone) is in the hands of Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities (IFCAs), MMO, Environment Agency, Local Authorities and many more, giving unbridled access to things being missed or overlooked.

Historically it was so, and no development in new Acts of Parliament has changed this. We have stated that this crazy paving approach to management was designed to fail. It was so in Pat Gowen’s day, and it is true at this moment.

Marinet travelled recently to Newcastle to visit the MMO as the guest of its CEO, John Tuckett. We believe that we needed to brave the lair to assess the depth of genuine ability to effect management change. In this agency we met those who believe they are doing a great job by following the codes they operate by.

The however is about overlapping responsibilities between agencies. One agency takes priority, and any secondary agency often fails because it is unable to enforce its role in decision-making. By agencies playing possum in this way, the wheels of “business as usual” continue unabated.

Recent decisions made on a couple of marine aggregate dredging licence applications, all within designated MCZs, has highlighted such failings within the regulatory system.

The public’s ability to access information and data from public consultation replies has been slow to appear on the public register. Take, for example, the case of an IFCA with responsibility for fisheries within an MCZMCZ Marine Conservation Zone. The IFCA did not even respond in writing. When pressed, the MMO informed us that there was a verbal conversation.

All very unprofessional in my view! It seems as if the laissez-faire business as usual model is embedded deep into this system, and they believe that nothing can replace it.

Also the individualistic style of NGO responses certainly endorses this understanding. Within Marinet, we find this failure to really engage with the issues irresponsible to the extreme. It’s as if we are part of the same hypocrisy – and in fact, we are.

The only fear this “regulatory” system has is of the people who are prepared to go all the way.

What I mean by this is demonstrated by the Save Our Sands Community Action Group. Ordinary people who are prepared to defend the Goodwin Sands from the Dover Harbour Board’s application to dredge them. They have indicated they will go the distance.

What I believe they mean by this is to take the regulator to law. This is the last bastion of defence for the people, and the only thing that takes the power out of the regulator’s hands.

The truth is it is a nightmare of financial implications for individuals. Another bureaucratic design to shut the individual out. However with persistence, this is a way.

The reason why the NGO Movement as a whole does not have a permanent legal eye to regulation is down to where finance for these organisations comes from.

Once again bureaucracy has designed a way to neuter the NGO Movement, as I’ve explained before, and we are so much the poorer for it.

Marinet is committed to raising the challenge where we can. If nothing else, by constantly asking for accountability and open regulation. This way we are holding a line.

What we achieve is less than what we could if we operated as a movement.

The reality is that someone has to hold the line, and meanwhile we wait for reinforcements.

David Levy

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One Response to “David Levy – Lessons to be learnt – Dec 16”

Comment posted on 15th December 2016

Interesting article, David.

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