Overview of legislative and policy drivers for marine nature conservation Roger Covey
1967 Torrey Canyon Massive spill with massive consequences 62,000 lbs of bombs, 5,200 gallons of petrol, 11 rockets and large quantities of napalm dropped on the ship Mission called off when high spring tides put out the fire! Dispersant and actions made the spill far worse
NERC working party In 1971 NERC established a working party on Marine Wildlife Conservation Recommended further basic research and regular reviews to advise on the urgency of conserving threatened marine environments
1979 NCC & NERC Review Recommended: NCC become more involved in marine wildlife conservation NCC should collaborate with NERC and other organisations already well established in marine scientific research
1979 Review In the interests of economy of effort, greater co-ordination should be encouraged between conservation- orientated and pollution-orientated research in the marine environment.
1981 W&C Act After much lobbying, included provision for designating Marine Nature Reserves Lundy was designated in 1986. Nearly twenty years later it remains England’s only designated MNR
Europe Meanwhile, environmental improvements were being driven by Europe: 1976 bathing waters directive aimed to protect the public from faecal pollution at bathing waters.
Europe 1991 saw the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive
The Habitats Directive Council Directive 92/43/EEC on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora “Done at Brussels 21 May 1992”
Habitats Directive Maintain biodiversity by establishing a coherent European ecological network …an appropriate assessment must be made of any plan or programme likely to have a significant effect on the conservation objectives of a site which has been designated or is designated in future
Habitats Directive …a system should be set up for surveillance of the conservation status of the natural habitats and species covered by this Directive
So what Habitats? Annex 1 lists a range – for marine it includes: Estuaries Large shallow inlets & bays Sandbanks which are slightly covered by seawater all the time Mudflats and sandflats not covered by seawater at low tide Lagoons Reefs
European marine sites 39 sites Over half a million hectares
Habitats Regulations The Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 1994
Regulation 33 As soon as possible after a site becomes a European marine site, the appropriate nature conservation body shall advise other relevant authorities as to – The conservation objectives for that site Any operations which may cause deterioration of natural habitats….or disturbance of species for which the site has been designated
Features & subfeatures For clarity, English Nature has split Features into subfeatures – so: Fal & Helford subtidal sandbanks have been split to: Eelgrass communities Maerl bed communities Gravel & sand communities Mixed sediment communities
Favourable condition table AttributeMeasureTarget ExtentAreaNo decrease Distribution of communities Dist’n of communities No significant deviation from baseline Species composition Presence & abundance of species No significant deviation from baseline Nutrient statusExtent of green algal growth No increase from baseline
Water Framework Directive Substantial & comprehensive piece of water legislation Requires inland & coastal waters to reach at least “good ecological status” by 2015
The holy grail? Both Habitats and Water Framework Directives require maintenance of ecological quality As yet we still have a limited understanding of the effect of water quality on ecology.
Uncertainty With uncertainty of effects of water quality, we have to be precautionary Better science may allow us to target improvements more efficiently Better science may allow us to be predictive in identifying problems
Meanwhile…. Halt the decline in biodiversity by 2010 No anthropogenic eutrophication by 2010 A network of representative marine protected areas by 2012 Restore fish stocks to maximum sustainable yields by 2015 ‘where possible’
Marine Stewardship Report Best available science Better integration of monitoring & observation Improved co-ordination and access to data
Marine Information Council Seeks improved co-ordination between industry and the Government Brings together government, institutional, academic and industry bodies The primary task is to seek improved funding for marine research and to foster the application of this research to customer needs
Where next? Better ways of monitoring Improved understanding of water quality effects on ecology Better links between science and management
If not? Loss of opportunities Potential expensive declines in environmental quality Increased precaution in management Potential expensive constraints on industry
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