Conservationists Applaud New Scottish Marine Bill

The Scottish Government this morning launched a Marine Bill for Scotland’s seas, setting out measures to restrict damaging activities in the interests of marine conservation and preserving ecosystem services in Scotland’s inshore waters.

The measures, which conservationists view as more stringent than those set out in the UK Marine Bill, currently progressing through the House of Lords, include potential restrictions on fishing, salmon farming, dregding and the development of oil pipelines up to 12 nautical miles from Scotland’s costs. This area accounts for 60% of the UK’s inshore waters, and includes rich fishing grounds.

Launching the Bill, the Scottish Environment Secretary, Richard Lochead, said: “Scotland holds a quarter of Europe’s total tidal and offshore wind resource and 10 per cent of its potential in wave power. Our seas generate more than £2.2 billion for the Scottish economy. We have huge potential to increase economic growth from our seas but need to do so in a sustainable way.” A network of Marine Protected Areas will be created in Scotland’s seas.

Under the proposals, damaging activities would be permitted within Marine Protected Areas only if two or more MPAs consist of identical habitats. This differs from the UK legislation, which focuses on finding a balance between nature conservation and socioeconomic concerns within Marine Conservation Zones. This difference raises the prospect of clashes between the Scottish and UK Governments over the legislation and over enforcement.

See the full press release on the Scottish Government website