Mark Hunter MP calls for a Marine Bill

October 16, 2007 10:43 AM
Marine Bill

Mark with the "Petition Fish" - a fish whose scales have been signed by individuals calling for a Marine Bill

Mark Hunter MP for Cheadle is supporting The Wildlife Trusts' call for a Marine Bill in next month's Queen's Speech. Such a bill would provide better protection to our seas and sea life, radically overhaul the present fragmented and confusing legislative framework, and create an eco-system centred approach to marine stewardship that integrates protecting wildlife, habitat and managing natural resources.

Mr Hunter attended their "Petition Fish" launch in the House of Commons where The Wildlife Trusts - along with representatives from every region of the UK including Cheshire. Tens of thousands of people from all over the country have already signed up in support of the Bill. During the meeting, the Wildlife Trusts launched their report "Marine Reserves - TLC for our seas and sea life".

After the event Mr Hunter said: "I know that the Cheadle constituency is someway from the sea, but nevertheless many residents have contacted me about this important issue.

We have extraordinarily rich seas around the UK. They are home to more than 44,000 plants and animal species, from intricate corals and seahorses to seals and dolphins. Our seas also play a critical role in regulating our climate. When healthy, they soak up vast amounts of carbon dioxide and release oxygen for us to breath. But this is all threatened by over-exploitation through activities such as overfishing, sand and gravel extraction, waste dumping and so on.

We need to look after our seas far better. This is why we need a Marine Bill with effective powers for Marine Reserves in next month's Queen's Speech."

Michael Allen, chairman of The Wildlife Trusts, said: "We have been delighted with the tens of thousands of signatures that Wildlife Trusts from around the UK have gathered for our Petition Fish. It shows there is public support for protecting our marine environment.

We have a unique patchwork of marine habitats around our coast with meadows of seagrass, forests of kelp, gardens of colourful sponges and corals, and moonscapes of sand and mud riddled with the burrows of millions of shellfish and worms. Not only does this report demonstrate the urgent need for a Marine Bill which includes effective legal measures to designate Marine Reserves but it also sets out how Marine Reserves might operate.

We appreciate the cross party support we have received for a Bill and urge the Government to include the Bill in next month's Queen's Speech."

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