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Darwin Mounds

Volume 404: debated on Thursday 1 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what plans she has to establish a no-fishing zone over the Darwin Mounds; [109620](2) what steps the Government is taking to protect the Darwin Mounds off the coast of Scotland prior to its formal designation as a Special Area of Conservation. [109618]

We have identified the Darwin Mounds area as a likely candidate for designation as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) under the Habitats Directive. However, legislation to apply the Habitats Directive in the offshore area which would enable the UK to designate offshore SACs and to take measures to protect them is not yet in place. Consultation on the necessary legislation will take place in the near future.In the absence of such legislation, I wrote in October 2002 to Margot Wallstrom, the Commissioner for the Environment, and Franz Fischler, the Commissioner for Fisheries, seeking assistance in protecting the Mounds. We have since been exploring with the Commission the most effective means for putting in place measures to protect the area from the impact of fishing, including whether it would be appropriate to use emergency powers available under the new Common Fisheries Policy framework regulation, (EC) No. 2371/02.