HOUSE OF COMMONS
LONDON SW1A 0AA
Our ref: RSE8241
5th February 2009
EDM 337- Marine Reserves
Dear Mr Walker
Thank you for your recent correspondence about the Marine Bill.
As you are aware, the Government has a poor record on the marine environment and Conservatives have consistently called for a Marine Bill to be published.
As you may be aware, the Government has been promising this legislation for a long time and was 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, as you say, we must now ensure that the Bill is shaped into a robust and effective piece of legislation. You may be aware that my colleagues in the House of Lords, where the Bill is currently being debated, have tabled several amendments to improve the Bill.
Specifically on Marine Conservation Zones, 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. We are also calling upon the Government to develop selection criteria under the Marine Bill for establishing a network of protected marine areas based around science-based decision making.
We also need to encourage the use of 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 activties 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.
Please be assured that 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