Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Scottish Marine Bill passed unanimously

The Scottish Marine Bill was passed unanimously last Thursday by Members of the Scottish Partliament (MSPs). Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead described it as a "momentous" day for the Scottish marine environment, stating that "Our first Marine Bill marks the beginning of a new era for our seas." http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/8499466.stm

The main measures in the Bill, which was passed by MSPs yesterday afternoon, include:

  • A National Marine Plan to give greater clarity to decision making in the marine environment and encourage investment
  • A simpler licensing system to cut bureaucracy and introduce efficiencies to encourage economic investment and growth
  • New powers to select and manage Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) to enhance marine biodiversity and preserve historic assets
  • Improved protection for seals, including a comprehensive licence system and tougher penalties for those who harm seals
  • New responsibilities for safeguarding the health of all Scottish waters out to 200 nautical miles (nm) - in addition to responsibility for marine planning out to 200 nm

Convenor of Scottish Environment LINK Marine Task Force, Calum Duncan particularly welcomed “the duty to protect and enhance our seas, a marine planning system that includes environmental targets and a duty to deliver a network of marine protected areas.”

The National Marine Plan will designate Scottish marine regions and regional plans in order to devolve the implementation of regional marine spatial planning to partnerships made up of local stakeholders and local authorities.

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