25th May 2007
Alan Whitehead today raised awareness of the need for new legislation by the end of the year to halt the decline of marine biodiversity and allow for offshore renewable energy developments. Dr Whitehead, who has been campaigning on the issue for some time, has previously highlighted the importance that energy installations such as wind farms can have in protecting and developing no-take zones and marine protection zones, rather than detracting from them.
On Wednesday Dr Whitehead attended a Parliamentary reception organised by the Wildlife and Countryside Link, a coalition of environmental groups concerned about the state of the marine environment, and added his voice to demands for a UK Marine Act as soon as parliamentary time will allow so that this crucial issue can be addressed.
The UK’s marine wildlife is suffering from a lack of protection and from mismanagement of the seas. Currently only two per cent of Britain’s seas enjoy any level of protection, leaving many nationally important species at risk. The marine environment is under increasing pressure from a number of activities - such as oil and gas drilling, dredging, and over-fishing - and the impacts of climate change. A Marine Bill is needed to create a network of marine protected areas to help wildlife recover, and to ensure the sustainable planning and management of activities in our seas.
Dr Whitehead joined other Parliamentarians and environmentalists to take stock of the state of Britain’s seas and discuss the Government’s plans for new legislation as outlined in the recent Marine Bill White Paper. The UK is at risk of failing to meet its international biodiversity targets unless marine legislation is introduced in the next Queen’s Speech.
Dr Whitehead MP said:
“The government has now put forward a far reaching statement of intent about what a Marine Bill will do, but it is now vital that we have a Marine Bill laid before Parliament as soon as possible. The UK has around it some of the most important coastal waters in the world both in terms of natural diversity and intensive use. It is crucial to obtain protection for the natural marine environment whilst ensuring that we can secure renewable energy from the sea and enable productive use of the sea for leisure and commercial purposes. The clear use arrangements represented by a Bill would be very good news for the Solent and the waters around Southampton which are some of the most heavily used and scientifically interesting waters in the country.”
- Wildlife and Countryside Link (Link) is a coalition of the UK’s major voluntary organisations concerned with the protection and conservation of wildlife, the countryside and the marine environment. Link’s campaign for a Marine Bill is supported by the Marine Conservation Society; the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds; the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society; The Wildlife Trusts; WWF-UK; Buglife – the Invertebrate Conservation Trust; the Council for British Archaeology; the Herpetological Conservation Trust; Marine Connection; the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals; the Shark Trust; the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust; and the Zoological Society of London.