To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, pursuant to the Answer of 19 July 2021 to Question 33200, what the evidential basis is for his Department's decision to use byelaws to manage fishing in Marine Protected Areas rather than fishing vessel licences to further site conservation objectives; and what assessment he has made of how that approach will deliver (a) recovery of the whole marine ecosystem within Marine Protected Areas and (b) the Government’s commitment to protect 30 per cent of land and sea for nature by 2030.
20 September 2021
The UK is at the forefront of marine protection with 40% of English waters now designated as Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and the Government has further plans to pilot Highly Protected Marine Areas.
All MPAs are already protected through the planning and licensing regimes that cover activities such as dredging for aggregates and construction of offshore wind farms.
The excellent work of fisheries regulators in our inshore waters has resulted in 98 MPAs being protected from fishing activities that would otherwise have hindered the achievement of their conservation objectives. This work has shown that providing the fishing industry and other stakeholders with the opportunity to work closely with management authorities to shape management measures is crucial to their long-term success. We want this collaborative approach to be at the core of our management approach for offshore waters.
Each MPA protects specific features, whether that is a particular species or a variety of different habitats. These features are set out in legislation and it is the role of regulators to ensure that activities that take place will allow MPA conservation objectives to be achieved. Tailored byelaws for each site will help to achieve conservation objectives, but without unnecessarily restricting legitimate fishing activity.