The Scottish Sea Angling Conservation Network

Fish for the Future

The Scottish Sea Angling Conservation Network header image 3

Tell me about the true state of our seas

An audit of Scotland’s seas, to discover the health of fish, animal and plant stocks, has been ordered by the Scottish Government, it’s report is expected  to play a central role in the development of a marine bill to protect sea life.

Mr Lochhead, the Environment Secretary, said he had "been made to realise the responsibility on my shoulders to look after what is one of the planet’s most precious resources right on our own doorstep" by the Scotsman’s campaign which calls for the creation of a network of marine reserves and protected areas around the coast, along with a system of marine planning to organise human activity, and for control of conservation of the sea to be devolved to Scotland.

He revealed: "We have commissioned a report from government agencies. To support work on a Scottish marine bill, we require good, up-to-date environmental information to use as a baseline upon which we can measure progress towards delivering a greener Scotland for the marine area."

Three major government agencies - Fisheries Research Services, Scottish Natural Heritage and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency - have been asked to produce an initial summary of the latest findings by the spring.

[ Initial by Spring, final by when, action by ?? - SSACN ]

The report will be concerned primarily with the health and environmental aspects of the sea, he added, but may also contain details on the economic value of the sea to Scotland, estimated at £14 billion in previous studies.

In addition, a new organisation - a successor to the Advisory Group on Marine and Coastal Strategy, which reported in March - is to be set up to provide further advice on marine issues.

Mr Lochhead said the current assessment was that the marine environment was "generally good", but he stressed the need for an effective marine bill amid the growing use of the sea.

"There’s virtual unanimity in Scotland that we need a marine act for Scotland and we want that bill to be meaningful and appropriate," he said.

[ and perhaps INCLUSIVE for a change SSACN ]

However, he expressed concern that "turf wars" between Whitehall departments might undermine the forthcoming UK marine bill, with a "hugely detrimental" knock-on effect on Scottish legislation.

He warned: "If departments within the UK government prevent a UK marine bill addressing certain issues in English and Welsh waters, then it is highly unlikely that these same departments are going to allow our bill in Scotland to have certain powers."

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