16/03/2007

WWF welcomes Marine White Paper

WWF Northern Ireland welcomes the publication of the Marine White Paper as a major step towards better management of our seas and better protection for marine wildlife. It warns, however, that the Northern Ireland administration must act quickly to ensure that appropriate and relevant new legislation is introduced which is tailored to meet local needs.

This White Paper is a good starting point but having campaigned for new marine legislation for more than five years, WWF is hoping that a Marine Act will be in place by 2008.

While some issues like oil and gas and shipping will be dealt with on a UK basis, Northern Ireland is responsible for issues like fisheries, marine nature conservation, pollution, aggregate extraction and renewable energy licensing within its own territorial waters.

In WWF’s view it is vital that a Northern Ireland Marine Bill is transposed quickly as part of the UK wide Marine Act to provide a coherent framework to regulate and sustainably manage these and other issues affecting our seas. For example, this new legislation should help the Government to tackle climate change by encouraging offshore renewables development while allowing our marine wildlife to adapt to its impacts.

WWF welcomes the need for a ‘network of Marine Protected Areas’ as set out in the White Paper. Strangford Lough is already protected and the unique sponge population off the shores of Rathlin Island make it another good candidate for marine protection.

“By introducing a new management system for our seas which includes zoning of areas and activities, we can help preserve our precious marine biodiversity. Over half of Northern Ireland’s wildlife lives in and around our seas - over 4,000 species - and yet less than 4 per cent of it is protected,” said Malachy Campbell, Policy Officer, WWF Northern Ireland.

A new system of marine planning which integrates the current disparate laws that apply to our seas should also help to protect our marine biodiversity and stop the continuing decline of our marine wildlife and biodiversity while facilitating the needs of business and industry. WWF believes this new planning framework must inform all planning decisions made at sea and prevent conflicts between all the different users of the marine environment. This type of measure is vital in areas such as Belfast Lough where there are lots of competing interests on a very small area of sea.

“It’s important that we manage our seas in a way that protects the many habitats and species that depend upon them while ensuring there is sufficient space for the many business and industry interests that rely on our coasts. We hope this new legislation will make this happen,” said Malachy Campbell.

(JM/SP)

Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

28 January 2020
Plans Submitted For Bangor Seafront
Plans for the £50 million redevelopment of Queen's Parade in Bangor have been submitted. The significant milestone sees Bangor Marine Ltd, a consortium made up of a number of leading companies including the Karl Group and Farrans, submit a detailed planning application for the Co Down development.
01 March 2006
Call for NI Marine Act receives backing
The call for an NI Marine Act from the Joint Marine Partnership (JMP) has received the backing of the Ulster Unionist Party.
26 November 2020
NI's First Ever Clean Air Strategy Launched
With some 800 deaths per year associated with air pollution, Northern Ireland's first ever Clean Air Strategy has been launched by Environment Minister Edwin Poots.
26 November 2020
UHRW Calls For Public Inquiry Into La Mon Bombing
The Ulster Human Rights Watch (UHRW) has called for a Public Inquiry into the La Mon terrorist atrocity which killed 12 people and injured 23 more on 17 February 1978. In 2014, the then Secretary of State rejected calls for a Public Inquiry on grounds of insufficient evidence.
01 May 2013
New Marine Bill Put Before Assembly
This week has been described as 'the most important in a generation for our marines', following new laws designed to protect and manage Northern Ireland's marine life and biodiversity. Yesterday saw the 4th stage of the Marine Bill in the Assembly while today sees the launch of a consultation strategy for Marine Protection Areas (MPAs).