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Beware anti-Marine Conservation Zones scare tactics

The media – from newspapers to social media, Facebook in particular – are alive with misleading and incorrect implications and claims about the impacts of Wales’ possible highly protected Marine Conservation Zones on recreational and other activities that are benign and will require little or no management.  Whether these reports arise from innocent misunderstandings or whether they are deliberate mischief making is not easy to tell – but the deliberate and targeted way disinformation is being spread does seem suspiciously orchestrated.

Rebuttals of a very misleading article in Pembrokeshire’s Western Telegraph were published recently see here.

At a meeting between Welsh Government and diving representatives on 12 June the WG confirmed that there is no intention to prohibit recreational diving from HP MCZs.  Certainly no extractive diving, such as shellfishing; but simply looking and enjoying – including wreck diving – not a problem.  Assuming the notes of the meeting become available they will be published here when possible.

The take home message from all the disinformation is read the detail in the consultation documents for yourself and don’t accept tittle tattle at face value.  Certainly the consultation document is heavy going and unclear in many places, but if you are unsure about a meaning ask the Welsh Government (see the consultation pages for contact details) or send a query to WWMC and we will attempt to answer it.

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Invitation to public MCZ consultation engagement events: proposed option sites for MCZs in Wales

Invitation to public MCZ consultation engagement events: proposed option sites for MCZs in Wales

Pembrokeshire Coastal Forum, on behalf of Welsh Government, is running two public engagement events for the proposed options of MCZ sites. This event is aimed at coastal stakeholders and members of the public to inform and gather constructive views on the Marine Conservation Zone options off the coast of Wales.

There are two events happening, one each north and south Wales.  Booking is essential, as spaces are limited for the presentation session in the morning.  More information about the event will be provided once your place is confirmed.

The South West Wales event is on Wednesday 27th July. Click here to book a place.

The consultation documents are available here.

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Wales Marine Conservation Zone project – Skomer MNR does need your help

The first round of consultation on the Wales Marine Conservation Zone project has been launched here.  It seeks views and information on the 10 potential site options that have been identified.

Skomer MNR is on the list – that’s the good news.  But, the proposed boundary for the new MCZ encompasses about a third less area than the existing MNR.

It is critical that the Skomer MNR stays on the list of sites for proposed for designation as a highly protected MCZ.  It is also essential that we send the message that loosing a third of the existing MNR area from HPMCZ would be unacceptable since this would undo the last 20 years of successful protection.

There hasn’t been time to look at the consultation documents in detail yet, but it is already clear that it will be important to read all the relevant parts of the documents to avoid jumping to any wrong conclusions.  In particular, for example, the tables of potentially damaging activities for each proposed site are very misleading.  Diving is included in these tables even though the annexes make it clear that typical levels of recreational diving would not be considered a threat.   However, a superficial glance at the document risks creating an immediate impression that diving could be limited in some areas, even though there is no evidence whatsoever that recreational diving is an environmental threat.  It is hard not to jump to conclusions, but we must wonder if this inclusion of diving on the list of potentially damaging activities is a response to previous lobbying by commercial fishing interests who have previously demanded banning of recreational diving if fishing is excluded from highly protected MCZs.

The Skomer MNR Advisory Committee is due to meet on 10 May to consider the consultation document.  As well as making your own response, please ensure that the Committee member that represents your interests is aware of your support.  Members of the Committee are listed in the minutes here.  If you are do not know how to contact them, please send a message via the contacts page and it will be passed to the appropriate member.

More information on the consultation and advice on the key issues that need to be included in responses will be posted here as soon as possible.  Please watch this space.

Everyone that supports the protection of Skomer MNR, or any other of the proposed sites, are encouraged to respond individually to the consultation – the more supportive responses that the Welsh Government receive the better, numbers of individual responses as opposed to petitions and lists of names really do matter – but it will be important to respond in a considered and informed way, not as a knee-jerk.  Be assured, socio-economic self-interests will be responding with objections to the proposals – we must not let those self-interests derail an important and necessary conservation process.

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Wales Marine Conservation Zone Project Newsletter 4 published

The latest Wales Marine Conservation Zone project newsletter is available here.

At present the Welsh Government intend to commence the first consultation exercise during the week commencing 16 April 2012.  Keep an eye on the WWMC or the WG website for the launch.  It is vitally important that everyone with an interest in the future of marine conservation in Wales responds to this consultation, and to the following two rounds, so that the environmental voice is not drowned out by the objections from economic self-interests.

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Marine Conservation Zone selection criteria published

The Welsh Assembly Government published the Marine Conservation Zone selection criteria on 22 March 2011 following consultation on the draft guidance during October-November 2010.   Download a copy from the WAG website here.  WAG’s  analysis and response to the comments received during this period can also be downloaded from the same page.

Wales Marine Spatial Planning consultation launched

WAG launched the marine spatial planning consultation  Sustainable development for Welsh seas: Our approach to marine planning in Wales on 16 February 2011.  The consultation focuses on how Wales should approach marine planning and what WAG needs to consider when drawing up marine plans.  Download the consultation document here and take the opportunity to respond.

Natural Environment Framework

A living Wales – a new framework for our environment, our countryside and our seas.

The Welsh Assembly Government acknowledges that demands on the environment are increasing because of climate change, human activity and other factors.  Until now they and most others have usually looked at parts of the environment separately.  This means we have underestimated the importance of the environment in our lives.

WAG’s new Natural Environment Framework (NEF) focuses on managing our environment as a whole rather than focusing on separate parts.  The public consultation on the framework – available here – closes at the end of December.

It offers great opportunities, but, as it stands there are several areas of concern.  Please do download and read the consultation document and respond.

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