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Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009

Volume 505: debated on Wednesday 10 February 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will put in place supporting measures for fishermen not permitted to fish in ancestral grounds following the entry into force of the provisions of the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 establishing Special Areas of Conservation and Marine Conservation Zones. (316931)

Special Areas of Conservation (SACS) are not designated as a result of the provisions in the Marine and Coastal Access Act. They are created through the Habitats Regulations 1994 and Offshore Marine Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 2007, transposing the EC Habitats Directive. Fishing activity is not necessarily entirely prohibited in these areas, or in Marine Conservation Zones.

We want to work with the industry to minimise the impact of designations on fishing activity, and to develop a package of mitigation and adaptation support. There are real opportunities for the fishermen affected to be involved in this work. The European Fisheries Fund offers opportunities for financial support to the industry in order to assist with adaptation. Additionally, the Sustainable Access to Inshore Fisheries Project aims to set out proposals for long term sustainability in the fleet later this year.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when he expects the provisions of the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 establishing Special Areas of Conservation and Marine Conservation Zones to enter into force. (316932)

Part 5 of the Act (Nature Conservation) commenced in England on 12 January 2010. On this date Lundy Island, originally designated as a Marine Nature Reserve under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, automatically became our first MCZ. The Government have asked the statutory nature conservation bodies to come forward with advice by autumn 2011 on sites to be designated as Marine Conservation Zones. They will then consult interested parties in 2012 before taking final decisions on designation later in that year.

Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) are designated under the provisions of the Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 1994 and the Offshore Marine Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 2007, which transpose the EC habitats and wild birds directives, not under the Marine and Coastal Access Act.

Under these directives, member states are required to nominate sites to the European Commission. The Government expect to nominate an additional 10 SACs, and two further Special Protection Areas under the wild birds directive, to the Commission in October 2010. Stakeholders are consulted on the scientific case before nominations are put forward to the Commission.