David Levy – We have a problem, and can you help solve it? – Nov 15

I have a very interesting problem which I would welcome help with.

Most recently, I have found that I am becoming more disillusioned with fellow NGOs and I feel that even the best of them under-achieve, even when resourced by foundations worth millions. For a long time I have seen the reason for this lying with the charitable status taken by these organisations, but that does not explain why they could not back those who are prepared to take a stand.

Is it that they have sold out, and cannot face the reality? Does this explain why they ridicule those who still are up for the battle?

They seem to justify their behaviour by a self-belief that those still in the fray are delusional.

This might explain why Marinet has been exposed to NGOs publicly laughing at their aspirational and inspirational proposals delivered in many forums aimed at discussing the urgent issues.

This happened openly when Marinet tried to defend Descriptor 3, Criterion 3.3 (Footnote 1) during the MSFD discussions at DEFRA.

It came from those who had made the decision to abandon ‘marine reserves’ in the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 in order to have a seat at the table with Government. Was this privilege bought by them having to side with the authorities against other conservationists?

It appears that with this privilege comes some form of arrogance that their new position is the only way forward, and nobody can question them.

That this “seat at the table” has placed them in a position which is outside of the public perception of them seems to have been ignored.

That one of them appeared on BBC 1’s Countryfile the weekend before the issue of marine reserves in the UK Marine Act was to be debated and voted upon in the House of Commons stating on this programme they were, as an organisation, committed to marine reserves. Then, the following week, abandoned any support for this to happen. This is fact.

Kept quiet by a NGO conspiracy to keep this from the public, Marinet was bullied by our then parent organisation to accept that we were the people in the wrong. To this day that conspiracy still exists, and even a leading member of the organisation I am talking about remains in blissful ignorance of his organisation’s capitulation.

However my problem I am seeking help with is more recent, but equally frustrating.

All the evidence that is readily available regarding the global marine picture is clear — man, as a species, is systematically destroying the bread basket of the oceans by over-fishing, strip-mining habitats, and leaving too little of the seas protected.

Even where we have local initiatives, like Marine Conservation Zones (MCZsMCZ Marine Conservation Zone) in our national waters, they can be fished, dredged for aggregates and, when next to a nuclear power plant, the waters can be used and abused with toxic elements.

That this breaches our obligations to OSPAROSPAR Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic made up of representatives of the Governments of the 15 signatory nations. is soundly ignored, and the government agencies which should protect our sites are business as usual. So long as nobody rocks the boat and questions them, these practices continue.

This confirms to me that MCZs in the minds of our administrators, and even some of our NGOs, are bound up in the spirit of bureaucracy and not in the spirit of conservation.

This should, in my mind, be challenged at every corner by every NGO. But the problem I have, and others do too, is how to get the NGO organisations engaged.

Marinet makes clarion calls for that engagement, and is met with opposition that says “we have our own agenda” and are not being pushed by the likes of you.

My query is : how do you go about engaging these NGOs to defend what is left and which is, daily, being eroded?

Marinet will try to organise a national meeting for collaborative work, but do not hold your breath for the opposition to positive discussion will be massive.

Footnote 1   Descriptor 3: “Populations of all commercially exploited fish and shellfish are within safe biological limits, exhibiting a population age and size distribution that is indicative of a healthy stock.” ref. Marine Strategy Framework Directive, 2008/56/EC, Annex 1, paragraph 3.


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