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The Marine and Coastal Access Act, passed by parliament in November 2009, promises to change the way we look after our marine environment for ever. After centuries of neglect there is new hope that we can revive the ocean’s living systems and recapture the former glory of UK seas.
The new Act will bring about many changes but the most important for marine conservation are:
- marine protected areas – a network of nature reserves that will protect marine wildlife hotspots and a full range of UK marine seabed habitats, a key part of rebuilding marine systems
- inshore fisheries management – a new fisheries bodies with new responsibilities to protect the marine environment as well as delivering sustainable fisheries
- marine management organisation – a single new body responsible for marine management, bringing a ‘joined-up’ approach to replace the current mixed bag control of human activities.
The Wildlife Trusts’ national Living Seas team will be working hard to make sure that the new Act achieves its full potential to protect and rebuild our battered marine wildlife. Devon Wildlife Trust will be supporting this work, adding local detail to the national picture and making sure that as they are put into practice, the new measures take into account what we have learnt from over 20 years of marine conservation.
Our work did not end when the Marine Bill became law. We have to build on the framework that it provides, working with partners across the county to make sure that the new bodies and new procedures work well. It will be while before we know just what difference the Marine and Coastal Access Act will make to rebuilding Devon’s Living Seas, but it offers the best chance for a generation. We have high hopes of success.