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The Marine Bill - Next Steps

Apr 21,2008 SACN


The (almost 700 page) Draft Marine Bill is now out for Public Consultation with comments needed back to DEFRA by 26th June.

The Marine Bill will enable the Government powers to deliver through secondary legislation, which will be subject to further consultation.

So, some of the detail of what is intended to change will seem to be ‘missing’ from the bill itself.

If nothing else, anglers should at least be reading the ‘Policy’ section at the beginning of the document. 

The latter part of the document contains the actual proposed clauses, with explanatory notes on the facing page.

Soon after the current parliamentary recess ends, it is expected that a joint committee (consisting of parliamentarians from both houses) will be formed to examine the draft bill.

The committee will invite written evidence from stakeholders (this is separate to the information to be supplied to DEFRA for the consultation ��" stakeholders should submit both responses to the consultation to DEFRA, and ‘written evidence’ to the select committee).

The select committee will then invite stakeholders to present oral evidence.  (ie they will have the opportunity to question stakeholders who have submitted evidence).

It is expected that all this will take place by the end of May, when the select committee will report back to Government (DEFRA) and suggest changes.

DEFRA will then consider both the report of the select committee and the stakeholder responses to the consultation before a Bill is presented to the House, probably in late October.

The bill will then be examined clause by clause and subject to Parliamentary challenge before being put forward for Royal Assent.  (This will keep an army of officials and lawyers quite busy for a while!).

Of particular interest to anglers are new powers to:

- Bring in line Unregulated Shore Fishing (angling and netting)

- Bring in line Unregulated Fishing Vessels (ie unpowered vessels)

(Currently there are grey areas where anglers and others catching fish other than from a powered fishing vessel may not be subject to some Minimum Landing Size limits, and are able to sell fish without the need of a commercial licence or registation through the buyers and sellers legislation.  The bill will close these loopholes)

- Introduce maximum size limits, and ‘slot’ size limits

- Charge commercial fishing vessels flexibly (ie according to size, or gear used, environmental impact etc " although there are no plans to use those powers in the immediate future)

- Introduce Marine Protected Areas, both for conservation and fisheries management purposes.

- Replace Sea Fisheries Committees (SFCs) with Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities (IFCAs) who will have new and clear duties and enforcement powers and whose focus will be more on protection of the Marine Environment for the benefit of all stakeholders.  (IFACS responsible out to 6 miles will have a number of new duties related to the management, regulation and development of Recreational Sea Fisheries and Recreational Sea Anglers).

When the Marine Bill is accepted by Parliament, this will intoduce some fundamental changes to the way in which our Marine Environment is managed and so anyone with an interest in the Marine Environment should make the effort to understand the changes being proposed, and their likely impact, and to ensure that their views are taken into account by responding to the consultation, submitting evidence to the select committee and lobbying via their own MPs. 



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