To ensure that it is fit for purpose the Government intends the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) to have the degree of independence from any one Minister or Department that the Marine Fisheries Agency, as an executive agency of DEFRA, currently lacks.
This independence from a single Department of Government is key as the MMO will deliver functions on behalf of Government as a whole—not just for DEFRA. There is also a strong desire across Government for stakeholders to be confident that the MMO is neutral.
It is largely for these reasons that the Government have decided that the MMO should be a non-departmental public body.
DEFRA has been aware of the potential funding required for a relocation for some time. My decision on location of the Marine Management Organisation will be taken into account when 2009-10 budget allocations within DEFRA are agreed in the new year.
We are aiming to put in place a significant number of marine plans over a 20 year period. We have not set out in the Marine and Coastal Access Bill either the number of plans or the deadline for their production because this is a new system which needs to evolve.
The figures in the impact assessment published alongside the Bill are based on 10 plans, although the eventual number of plans, and their size will depend on local ecological and regional characteristics and needs in the areas where planning is most needed. We envisage that plans will be created through a phased approach, with the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) prioritising resources to the areas where it is determined that early planning will be of most benefit.
We aim to start developing the first plans as soon as the MMO is established. We will be examining these issues during the course of the next year and will consult with stakeholders as part of developing our approach.
Of the 43 new posts the Marine Management Organisation will create, 19 will be in marine planning.
Our impact assessment suggests that we may need teams of six to co-ordinate each plan, supported by resources from the wider organisation to address requirements such as science, data management and analysis, geospatial systems, legal advice, communications and stakeholder engagement.
Therefore depending on how many plans the MMO works on at any given time it would be likely to require dedicated staff with further input from a range of specialists. The MMO will not be working alone but will be seeking to involve marine and planning expertise from the stakeholder community. Ultimately the numbers engaged in the planning process will be determined by the priority allocated to planning and the availability of resources, in essence the needs of the business.