HOUSE OF COMMONS
LONDON SW1A 0AA
18 December 2008
Dear Mr Walker
Thank you for your recent correspondence about the Marine Bill.
The Government has a poor record on the marine environment and Conservatives have consistently called for a Marine Bill to be published. We have been duly disappointed by the delay, dithering and the low priority the Government has given marine issues so far. As you may be aware, the Government has been promising this legislation for a long time and were supposed to publish a Marine Bill for Parliament to be passing in the last session, but instead only managed to produce a draft Bill. While I am pleased that the Government has now published a Bill, we must now ensure that the Bill is shaped into a robust and effective piece of legislation.
I agree that it is essential the Marine Bill includes provisions to identify multi-purpose marine protected areas, which the Government has so far failed to do. Conservatives believe that a flexible and targeted protection of marine areas is preferable to setting 30 per cent of marine areas as no-take zones. Some areas need greater levels of protection than others.
However, in certain circumstances, it may be possible to continue using less environmentally damaging fishing practices, such as those involving the use of lines rather than trawling. This means taking important appropriate steps to conserve the particular aspect of that marine area, but not placing unnecessary restrictions on other activities which have no impact on that particular conservation effort. We also need to improve scientific data so that we can take appropriate action to conserve our marine life.
Conservatives will press hard to ensure that the Bill includes the measures necessary to shape it into a solid piece of legislation that benefits all marine users, whilst still protecting the marine environment.
Once again, thank you for taking the time to write to me.
James Duddridge MP