Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Marine Conservation Zone U-Turn

John Griffiths has been forced to put a hold on his proposals for MCZ's.  His department received 7000 responses, and reading between the lines has been totally overwhelmed by the opposition to the proposals which would have had far reaching consequences along the Welsh Coast, with huge potential impacts on the Tourism and Fishing sectors.

Particularly embarrasing for Welsh Government was the fact that in the last 5 years in Marine Protected Areas NO enforcement action has been carried out.  At least  "not to their knowledge" which is the worrying answer I got in an FOI request.

My consultation response has been uploaded to other websites, or a copy can be obtained from my constituency office as it runs to some 9 pages, but I thought you might like to know my conclusions, posted here.

"In conclusion, I would recommend the following course of action:
1. A moratorium should be placed upon the MCZ implementation process pending further research and evidence gathering on the socio-economic impact of MCZs in the areas identified;

2. An integrated environmental, fisheries and socio-economic assessment is conducted before any further action is taken by the Welsh Government. Only after the results of such an integrated and holistic assessment are analysed can the foundation upon which effective management of the MCZs be developed;

3. The Welsh Government fully takes into account the proposals contained within the WFA Striking the Balance document."

All in all it is another embarrasment for Environment Minister John Griffiths, whose department churns out consultations like confetti.  What is clear both from my response, and from the many coastal communities was that "environment" sections of Welsh Government had not been talking to Fisheries..... leading to an awful mess, and yet another "task and finish group".  Something tells me that the delay to 2013 may indicate a desire by the Minister to push the whole thing off to the new Natural Resources Wales Body, and wash his hands of the whole mess.