Marine law planned to save oceans

A A A

Ministers are working on Britain's first "set of rules" for the waves, in an attempt to save the crowded and damaged seas that surround its coasts.

Ministers are working on Britain's first "set of rules" for the waves, in an attempt to save the crowded and damaged seas that surround its coasts.

The new legislation, which will be unique in Europe, was given the go-ahead by the Prime Minister last week as "a new approach to managing our seas". Agreed across Whitehall, after tough interdepartmental battles, it will be included in Labour's election manifesto in an attempt to win the Green vote.

The planned Marine Bill follows an alarming wildlife collapse in the North Sea this summer, as forecast in The Independent on Sunday last October. Hundreds of thousands of seabirds failed to breed along the coast after the sand eels on which they feed disappeared.

Numbers of the once plentiful eels slumped after the cold-water plankton on which they themselves feed shifted hundreds of miles to the north, almost certainly as a result of global warming. The North Sea has warmed by 2C over the past 20 years. Scientists say that, as a result, its ecology is changing dramatically.

Unusually, the new Bill - which will include unprecedented conservation powers - has its roots in a private member's Bill put forward by an opposition MP.

John Randall, Conservative MP for Uxbridge, proposed a measure to create new protected wildlife areas at sea three years ago. His plan won Government backing, passed the Commons, but ran out of time in the House of Lords after lobbying by shipping interests.

The planned Bill, steered through Whitehall by the Environment minister Elliot Morley, has been broadened after ministers realised that a host of interests - including windfarm developers, fishing fleets, oil and gas companies, ships, firms extracting sand and gravel from the seabed and conservationists - were jostling for space in the seas, and that there were no systematic rules to govern the increasing development.

The coasts and seas are subject to a mish-mash of laws, the oldest dating back to the Magna Carta in 1215.

The new law will set out to "zone" the seas, just as the planning system does on land. Important wildlife areas will be protected, and suitable areas will be marked out for usage.

The details of the Bill are still being worked out, but it is likely to include "no-take zones", where all fishing is banned to allow stocks to recover.

These have been enormously successful around the world - fish have multiplied in them and spread out to recolonise denuded fishing areas, increasing catches. The Bill is also likely to ban damaging fishing methods.

News
news
Sport
Danny Cipriani of England breaks clear to score his second try
rugby
Life and Style
New research says leaving your desk can help you to avoid serious illness
health
Arts and Entertainment
tvSPOILER ALERT: Like a mash-up of 28 Days Later, Braveheart, The Killing and Lord of the Rings, this GoT episode was a belter
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Trainee

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Cloud ERP Solution Provide...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Digital Marketing Executive

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A luxury beauty house with a nu...

Recruitment Genius: Housekeepers - Immediate Start

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This company are currently recruiting new exp...

Recruitment Genius: Head Concierge

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award winning Property Man...

Day In a Page

On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral