David Levy – Reality check – Apr 19

During the Committee Stage of the UK Marine and Coastal Access Act, Sir John Lawton, Chairman of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution (RCEP), advised the Government that they needed to designate 30% of all UK territorial waters as marine reserves. He said “It did not matter where they chose to do it, but that this figure was necessary.”

The consequence of this statement was the dissolution of the RCEP in the Government drive to cut down on quangos. So it was a clear message to everyone — ‘toe the Government line or else lose your head’.

Why I draw your attention to this fact is that now some ten years later the marine situation has deteriorated to the point where we are no longer talking about UK waters but the same percentage marine reserves for global oceans.

Professor Callum Roberts and Julie Hawkins of York University, Richard Page of Greenpeace and Professor Alex Rogers of Oxford University have recently written this global oceans report and I am struck by the coincidence in percentage choice but also by how this arbitrary figure lays open the opportunity for lengthy and probably inadequate intervention.

Until the oceans and seas have true sovereignty then the solution will always be striving for catch up rather than delivering the solution. Namely, 100% protection, proper management with an abiding philosophy of do no harm.

David Levy

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