April 30, 2009
Scotland's first Marine Bill is set to deliver more opportunities to boost the economy while improving conservation measures
It follows calls from environmental groups, the marine industry and coastal communities for more effective, joined up management of Scotland's unique seas.
The Bill has been officially introduced to the Scottish Parliament:
Key measures include:
• A new marine planning framework so that increasing use of the seas for energy, fishing, aquaculture, recreation and other purposes is well managed
• The new planning system will create a more stable environment for investment
• New Marine Planning Partnerships will involve local agencies, communities and stakeholders to ensure a strong local voice
• A simpler licensing system will reduce the administrative burden and cut bureaucracy reducing business costs in key growth areas such as renewable energy
• Improved marine nature and historic conservation to safeguard and protect Scotland's unique habitats, wildlife and marine archaeology and wrecks
• Full regulation of seal management giving much improved protection for seals and a new comprehensive licence system
Speaking at Edinburgh's Newhaven Harbour today, Rural Affairs and Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead said:
"Today marks an exciting milestone. Our seas support tens of thousands of jobs, generate billions of pounds for our economy, put food on our tables and are set to play an increasing role in powering our nation through wind and wave power.
"We are introducing the framework to help deliver a new future for Scotland's seas. Our Marine Bill aims to maximise economic growth while ensuring future generations can still enjoy this world class environment.
"We have listened and are now responding to demand for change by delivering a Bill that will make the most of Scotland's unique coastal and marine environment without spoiling one of our most prized treasures. It will create a simpler regulatory system for the marine environment and allow greater local participation in marine and coastal matters.
"Scotland holds a quarter of Europe's total tidal and offshore wind resource and 10 per cent of its potential in wave power. Our seas generate more than £2.2 billion for the Scottish economy. We have huge potential to increase economic growth from our seas but need to do so in a sustainable way. We need to remember that Scotland is also a leading marine tourism destination and any changes should not be at the environment's expense.
"Striking the right balance between the long-term viability and growth of our marine industries and the enhanced protection of our special marine environment is at the very heart of our Bill.
"We are repealing the existing seals' legislation – which is 40 years old – and introducing a ban on the shooting of seals except within a well-managed licence system.
"The Bill also maps out the way forward on Scottish Marine Regions, providing a way for local interests to have a say over their local seas. The consultation showed strong support for this proposal, but we must ensure that we are not creating an additional layer of bureaucracy. "
Lloyd Austin, Head of Conservation Policy for RSPB Scotland, said:
"Scotland's seas and coasts are arguably our most precious natural resource, and with this new Bill, we could become a world-beater in conserving the marine environment. Our seas bring us jobs and prosperity from our marine industries and our amazing wildlife, from puffins to dolphins, which attract tens of thousands of visitors each year.
"To achieve a sustainable future for these industries, the Marine Bill must protect Scotland's jewel in the crown by putting the environment first in any decisions about how we manage our seas. A Marine Bill which fails to protect wildlife will also fail our coastal towns and businesses."
Ian Jardine, Chief Executive of Scottish Natural Heritage, said:
"This is a very important day for Scotland's seas. The Bill provides the opportunity to improve and streamline marine management, safeguard Scotland's famed marine wildlife and ensure our seas are healthy and productive for the future. SNH has been supporting the Scottish Government in developing the proposals.
"We look forward to working closely with Marine Scotland to progress the valuable actions proposed in the Bill and to deliver the management changes our seas and marine users urgently require."
Jason Ormiston, the Chief Executive of Scottish Renewables, the green energy trade body, said:
"The Scottish Marine Bill needs to provide the framework for the successful sustainable development of more than £10 billion capital investment in marine renewable energy by 2020. It should ensure that all stakeholders work together to maintain the quality of Scotland's seas and therefore make a massive contribution in the fight against climate change."
Professor Ian Boyd, Director of the Sea Mammal Research Unit at the University of St Andrews, said:
"The changes proposed within the new Bill are to be welcomed. They form a strong basis upon which future management of seals can be built within a context that helps the interests of all those who have interests in these animals and the use of the marine environment."
NOTES FOR NEWS EDITORS
1. A short video on the Marine Bill is available from: www.scotland.gov.uk/marinebill
2. Scotland's seas generate more than £2.2 billion of marine-industry (excluding oil and gas) and provide 50,000 jobs in Scotland. They support approximately 6,500 species of plants and animals (44,000 if microbial species are included). The value of landings by Scottish fishing vessels is £348 million.
3. Scotland has 18,862 km of coastline, 59 per cent of the UK total, and 470,000 km² of seas, 60 per cent of the UK total. Wildlife tourism is an important sector for Scotland, it generated around £210 million pounds for the Scottish economy in 2006. Leisure boating in Scotland tourism spend is £248 million.
4. 'Sustainable Seas For All' - A Consultation on Scotland's First Marine Bill was launched on July 14, 2008. The consultation period for Scotland's first marine bill closed on October 6, 2008.
Sustainable Seas For All: A consultation on Scotland's first marine bill
Analysis of Responses to the Public Consultation on the Scottish Marine Bill