24 July 2012
On 5th July the Committee for the Environment published its recommendations on the draft Marine Bill. Special attention was given to clauses that would grant the power to create Marine Conservation Zones (MCZ) in the province. This follows a joint campaign by BASC and Countryside Alliance Ireland to raise concerns that the creation of MCZs would lead to a ban on shooting and angling.
Mindful of recent proposals for MCZs in England and and for MCZs in Wales concerns remain that the NI Marine Bill could lead to the creation of highly protected MCZs in estuaries such as Strangford Lough and Lough Foyle.
If Northern Ireland followed the same approach currently being proposed in England and Wales it could lead to a ban on a wide range of traditional activities such as wildfowling and angling, which are of socio-economic and cultural importance in NI.
BASC is not opposed to marine conservation but is opposed to proposals which would restrict shooting.
The draft Bill will be brought back to Stormont for its consideration stage where amendments to the Bill will be tabled and debated. BASC and CAI will continue to advise MLAs at each stage of the debate to ensure that the interests of country sports are considered as the drafting of the Bill evolves.
On 10th May BASC and CAI gave a joint presentation to the Committee for the Environment on the contents of the draft Bill. We highlighted our concerns in relation to a number of clauses and some of these have been addressed in recommendations made by the Committee for the Environment in its 5th July report.
Thank you to everyone that voted NO in a web poll on the NI Marine Task Force website. The web poll was asking people to vote in support of the task force’s work on “putting wildlife at the heart of the draft Bill”. On 22nd April the web poll showed 97% support with less than 100 votes cast. On 10th May when BASC and CAI gave a joint presentation to the Committee for the Environment the result stood at 21 % support with 3,291 votes cast. On 15th June voting in the web poll was disabled. The final result of the web poll stood at 26% support with 5,403 votes cast.
Through this web poll the country sports community has sent an important message not only to the task force but to civil servants and political representatives in NI that a Marine Bill has to consider people's needs as well as those of wildlife.
What do you think? BASC members can share their views on this topic by filling in the comment box below. We will only show your first name when publishing comments.
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