Written by staff reporter Tuesday, 06 November 2007 00:00
GORDON BROWN has begun his premiership by totally ignoring the most important environmental issue facing Britain today, the state of our seas.GORDON BROWN has begun his premiership by totally ignoring the most important environmental issue facing Britain today, the state of our seas. Years of neglect, mismanagement and highly damaging fishing practices have left our waters in a sorry state, with fish stocks in rapid decline. So, when Labour made a manifesto commitment to introduce a Marine Bill that would finally ensure the sustainable management of our marine resources and protect the seas wildlife it seemed that things were about to change. Since then, that Marine Bill has dragged its slow and tortuous way through the various stages until finally Ben Bradshaw, who was then Fisheries Minister, assured us that it would definitely be introduced before the next election. Now we’ve had Gordon Brown’s draft legislation programme for the coming year, and not a mention of it.
There are a lot of bodies competing to use our waters, from the commercial fishing industry, right down to those that just want to dump stuff at sea. And none of them understand, or even appear to care, that when a scallop dredger destroys a sea grass bed the cuttlefish, pipefish and juvenile fish nurseries are all lost with it, or that no sooner do we discover that we have our own cold-water coral species growing round our shores than we annihilate them.
It is up to us to remind Gordon Brown what is needed – a network of marine reserves around Britain that are protected from all damaging activity, proper protection for endangered and vulnerable species, reformed inshore fisheries regulations so that it becomes sustainable (good for fish and fishermen), and an overall spatial planning system that balances the competing wants of industry and development with marine diversity and protection as its priority. And do it now before it does become too late.
Gordon Brown must include the Marine Bill in the Queen’s speech in November, and we need to tell him so. Tell him in your own words at www.number-10.gov.uk/output/Email_The_PM_Form.asp or go to http://www.mcsuk.org/marineworld/marine_bill_petition
and send the Marine Conservation Society’s pre written email urging him to prioritise it.