Commercial Fishing Could Soon be Banned from up to 200 Miles Within the British Coastline
14 March Wednesday, 3:39 PM

The soon to be released proposals from Ben Bradshaw, the Fisheries Minister, will include some of the most sweeping changes to maritime legislation, implementing the powerful new Marine Management Organisation to designate and regulate non-fishing zones. These proposals cover all “extractive” activities and thus oil wells will also be banned in such zones.

This white paper proposal could be of significant benefit to divers, as the main aims of the legislation is to preserve, maintain, and redevelop our treasured marine environments and restore them to their former glory.  With this regulation, for the first time our marine environments can be protected and redeveloped in an intelligent and minimally environmentally impactive way.

Many other nations have faced similar battles with their marine environments, Australia, New Zealand and the USA have all introduced conservation zones, and until recently the UK’s protection only covered a limited number of sites. This looks set to change quickly with the further introduction of eight new SACs (Special Areas of Conservation), adding to the 63 currently dotted around our coasts, although no fishing or extractive bans can be implemented there until this bill has been passed. These new SACs will include Dogger Bank, the Darwin Mounds and North Norfolk Sandbanks, areas much further out to sea than the SACs already in place.

Fishermen are dismayed at the news, stating that limitations to stock and fishing rights have already severely dented the economic viability of their work, and that these new zones will strangle already stretched resources. Many believe this will be the measure that will prevent them from doing the job they love, effectively ending their entire livelihoods.

Whatever the result of the proposals, it is becoming evident that increasingly senior figures are aware of the plight of our often unique and captivating marine habitats, providing divers with hope that they will be preserved for future generations of divers to enjoy.

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