Marinet makes submission to Welsh Government’s MPA public inquiry

Marinet has responded, February 2017, to the formal questionnaire issued by the Welsh Assembly aimed at enquiring about the effectiveness of management of marine protected areas (MPAs) in Wales. Marinet’s full response can be seen here.

The objectives of the Welsh Assembly inquiry are:

  • To assess the management of Welsh marine protected areas with a view to identifying opportunities to maximise the economic, social, environmental and cultural benefits that can be derived from them.
  • To understand what the implications of leaving the European Union will be for marine protected areas and to identify any issues that will need to be addressed during the exit process.

In response to the Assembly’s question as to how Welsh MPAs are being managed, Marinet has replied: “Poorly. Until such time as the marine ecosystem as a whole, and specifically maintenance of its integrity, are recognised as the fundamental principle for the management of human activity and its impact, then the function and performance of government will have failed and, as a consequence, MPA management also.”

“It has to be recognised that the focus and purpose of marine management and conservation relates to human activity, not to marine species or physical/chemical features. These natural features (animate and inanimate) are governed by their own processes and when damaged remedy is made by not seeking to interfere or regulate these natural features but rather by, and this is of fundamental importance, regulating the human activities which have caused this damage.”

“Marine management is, first and foremost, about human management.”

In response to the Assembly’s question as to the degree to which EU legislation should be retained following Brexit and the management regime that should follow, Marinet has replied: “The Welsh Government should retain all the existing provisions and designations established under EU law. From that point onward, it needs to establish a system of management of human activity so that this activity, licensed wherever necessary (licensing provides finance and accountability), respects the integrity of the ecosystem of the sea as a whole under Welsh jurisdiction.”

“This is the route to maximum economic benefit from the seas. This is the route by which the natural systems operating in the overall system can function properly and thus restore the overall health of the sea.”

“This is the route whereby the seas have democratic ownership, by both the users of the sea and society as a whole.”

Marinet has further advised: “Management plans should be set up before designation of each MPA, and this management (of human activity) should be based on the preservation of the ecosystem both within the MPA and with regard to the MPA’s place in the sea as a whole, with stringent baseline monitoring, regularly repeated, and strong enforcement of the required protections necessary to preserve or enhance the ecosystem.”

“For this to occur, government in Wales needs to establish an arm of administration with specific responsibility for marine affairs. This will provide accountability. This arm of government would formulate policy, administer policy, assess the performance of policy, and enforce policy. In short, it would have the sound and healthy functioning of the marine ecosystem as a singular focus. Upon this yardstick it would be accountable.”

“Until this occurs, the present performance of government and MPAs will fall short of what is necessary and, importantly, achievable.”


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