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Seas and Oceans: Biodiversity

Volume 481: debated on Tuesday 21 October 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 12 December 2007, Official Report, column 712W, on seas and oceans: biodiversity, whether he has finalised the network of Natura 2000 marine area sites; and if he will make a statement. (228050)

Our programme of data collection and survey work is continuing to identify further sites to complete the UK Natura 2000 network. We hope to have the network substantially complete by 2012.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the provisions of the communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament on the role of the CFP in implementing an ecosystem approach to marine management (COM(2008) 0187 final); and if he will make a statement. (228065)

The UK remain fully committed to the ecosystem approach to fisheries management and is fully supportive of the draft Council Conclusions on the Commission's Communication, which are to be agreed at a forthcoming EU Council of Ministers.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 12 December 2007, Official Report, column 712W, on seas and oceans: biodiversity, what reports he has received on the Joint Nature Conservation Committee on offshore sites being damaged by fishing activities; and if he will make a statement. (228164)

The Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC), our scientific advisers, have not indicated that potential offshore sites are being damaged by fishing activities. If the JNCC did indicate that such damage was occurring, we would approach the Commission to ask them to consider proposing protective measures.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 12 December 2007, Official Report, column 712W, on seas and oceans: biodiversity, whether he has submitted an initial tranche of candidate offshore special areas to the European Commission; and if he will make a statement. (228165)

An initial tranche of candidate offshore special areas of conservation (cSAC) were submitted to the European Commission on 29 August 2008. These included the sites at Braemar Pockmarks, Darwin Mounds, Haig Fras, Scanner Pockmark and Stanton Banks.

Two sites have been delayed pending resolution of issues arising during public consultation: North Norfolk Sandbanks and Saturn Reefs, and Wyville Thomson Ridge. DEFRA officials are working to resolve these issues and these sites will be considered for submission to the Commission at the earliest opportunity.