Marine conservation zones (MCZs) will primarily be protected via existing regulatory regimes. A series of duties placed on public authorities will ensure that those authorities take account of the likely impacts on MCZs of their own actions, and of the activities for which they have responsibility for granting consent.
We will also provide a mechanism to allow the Marine Management Organisation (or, in respect of Welsh territorial waters the Welsh Ministers) to control activities that are otherwise unregulated, where they pose a threat to the achievement of a site's objectives.
Where there is evidence to demonstrate that fisheries need to be controlled or restricted in order to further the conservation objectives for a site, the Bill places a duty on inshore fisheries and conservation agencies to take appropriate measures within their areas. Beyond six nautical miles we will pursue the introduction of measures through the EU Common Fisheries Policy.
There have been no recent discussions between my Department and the European Commission or my European counterparts on the designation of marine conservation zones (MCZ) as envisaged in the Marine Bill. However, the MCZ mechanism will enable us to work with statutory nature conservation advisors, environmental groups, fishermen and other stakeholders to select sites for the conservation of biodiversity.
Our strategy is to identify the areas that we want to protect, get the protection in place for the activities we control and seek to secure protection from activities such as fishing through international agreements such as the CFP.