Parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee publishes English MCZ report

The House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) published on 21st June 2014 a report of its investigation into the delivery of marine conservation zones (MCZsMCZ Marine Conservation Zone) to date in English seas by the UK Government.

The summary of the EAC report reads: “In November 2013 the Government designated 27 Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs)   well short of the 127 sites recommended by the project groups it had set up. This slow pace has been disappointing and suggests a lack of Government commitment to this initiative.

“The MCZMCZ Marine Conservation Zone selections so far have been criticised from all sides, for lacking environmental protection ambition and for gaps in the biodiversitybiodiversity Biological diversity in an environment as indicated by numbers of different species of plants and animals. covered, but also for the potential harm they could cause to business and leisure activities. At this stage it is difficult to assess whether such gaps and uncertainties will be a consistent feature of the programme, or whether a difficulty in collecting evidence of a standard that meets the Government’s requirements has skewed the initial selections.

“The Government will consult on a second tranche of MCZs in early 2015, with sites designated at the end of that year. To demonstrate to all sides that it is committed to the environmental protection of our seas, it should front-load the selection of further MCZs so that more fall in that next tranche of designations. It should follow an environmental precautionary principle approach to designations, based if need be on ‘best available’ data rather than the fuller ‘robust’ data that it has sought so far.

“The Government has not set out a strategy for the management of the MCZs, or explained the enforcement measures which will be applied. The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) will only have control plans in place for its part of the first tranche of these in 2016. The Government must immediately set out management plans for individual MCZs, and an overarching strategy for MCZ management which facilitates voluntary arrangements where these would not undermine or weaken the MCZs’ objectives.

“The Government should identify a clear lead agency to drive effective co-ordination of protected areas. The MMO might be given that role, but if so the Government will need to ensure that the organisation’s planning and resources would allow it to discharge that responsibility effectively. The Government should provide its assessment of the budget and resources that the MMO will make available to manage the MCZs, and how any efficiencies will affect the level of MCZ management and enforcement that the organisation will be able to provide.”

Note: Marinet has published the full PDF version of the Environmental Audit Committee Report on its website.

Marinet supplementary submission on co-location to EAC

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