SAGB Annual Conference Fishmongers Hall, 17 MayEngland s contribution to an ecologically coherent UK MPA networkJames Marsden, Director Marine, Natural EnglandNatural England wants a strong relationship with the shellfish industry. Despite differencesof opinion we continue to invest in dialogue So I m very grateful for the opportunity toaddress you today.ContextThe Government s claim to be the greenest government ever is being challenged.But Ministers remain committed to establishing an ecologically coherent UK MPA network,which they want to be substantially complete by December 2012.By the end of 2016 the entire UK MPA network must be in place with managementmeasures that help deliver ecological coherence by conserving representative marinehabitats.So that by 2020 further degradation of marine biodiversity has been halted and wherepossible, restoration is underway, helping deliver good environmental status (GES) requiredby the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD).We re trying to deliver in a few years at sea what it has taken more than six decades toachieve on land.England s contribution to the UK MPA network will comprise existing and proposed SpecialAreas of Conservation (SACs) and Special Protection Areas (SPAs) designated under theHabitats and Birds Directives (Natura 2000), Ramsar sites and SSSIs in estuarine andcoastal waters, and MCZs one network, five designations.There are four very distinct roles in delivery of the MPA network in England: Defra makespolicy and designates MPAs; Natural England and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee(JNCC) provide advice on site selection, conservation objectives and activities likely tocause damage to the features to be protected; the relevant authorities the MarineManagement Organisation (MMO), Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities (IFCAs)and other public authorities develop, implement and regulate management measures; andstakeholders provide evidence and inform choices to be made about MCZs.Designation of European Marine Sites SACs & SPAsLast August, the Government submitted 8 candidate SACs and notified the EuropeanCommission (EC) that 2 SPAs have been classified.Natural England completed re-consultation on 2 proposed SACs (Lune Deep and PrawlePoint to Start Point) last November and on 11 May, our Board approved recommendations toGovernment for these sites to be added as extensions to existing SACs.A consultation on Portland to Studland pSAC will commence later in 2011 and this site willbe submitted to the Commission in 2012.
Designation of these three 3 SACs will complete the SAC network in English waters and,together with existing European Marine Sites, will extend protection under the Habitats andBirds Directives to around 23% of English territorial waters (0-12nm).Consultation on a further tranche of perhaps 10-11 new SPAs is not expected to begin untillate 2011/12 with classification extending to 2015/16.Marine Conservation ZonesUnlike Natura 2000 sites - perceived by some as designation by diktat - the location andboundaries of MCZs are being designed by stakeholder groups through four regionalprojects.This is a unique and new way of working for all involved. We re now two years into theprocess and huge progress has been made.The four regional projects published their third iteration reports on 28 February and receivedfeedback from the independent Science Advisory Panel (SAP) at the end of March.The SAP report confirms that the regional projects are likely to deliver final siterecommendations by 31 August 2011 that meet the Ecological Network Guidance (ENG)design criteria, subject to the identification of reference areas.Stakeholder engagementThere s been impressive and welcome stakeholder engagement so far more than a millionpeople are having their say.No other country in the world has attempted to engage so many people in developing plansfor marine protection on such a large scale before.Despite this stakeholder-led process, it s been reported that Natural England and JNCCalready have a secret map of draft MCZs. We do not.124 draft MCZs have been identified to date. The hard work wasn t done in Whitehall, nor byenvironmental NGOs, but by a combination of fishermen, offshore energy developers andaggregates producers, recreational boaters and conservationists, port authorities, localcommunities and the public.It hasn t been easy. People don t always agree. And the stakeholder groups deserve hugecredit for sticking together through some tough and difficult times.Their discussions have been open, honest, sometimes heated, and they have surfaced bigissues, particularly about representation, evidence base, management measures, referenceareas and impact assessment.RepresentationThere s real concern among fishing interests about representation on the stakeholder groupsand I know some SAGB members have felt marginalised. But it s not possible for industrysectors to have multiple representatives on the stakeholder groups - the process is not aboutmajority voting but collaborative decision making.
Best available evidenceNatural England is under close scrutiny from stakeholders in terms of the openness,transparency and rigour of our processes, and trust in our evidence.We ve identified scope for improvements to ensure that our processes are consistent with allrelevant Government guidelines and codes of practice. In February, Defra s Chief ScientificAdviser commissioned an independent expert case study review to look at the selection ofthree SACs. The review group is expected to complete its task by mid June.We ve provided the review group with a complete chronology of the SAC designation work ofEnglish Nature and Natural England from February 2001 April 2011, including a summaryof the quality assurance carried out at each stage and what changes were made as a result;what project management structures/accountability were in place; and an audit trail ofevidence used to inform our site recommendations. We are working towards publication ofall supporting evidence and related documentation for SAC recommendations on NaturalEngland s website.But what does enough evidence look like vs best available , who should provide it (e.g.where does the onus/burden of proof lie) and who should pay? Definitive marine evidence isexpensive.The MCA recently estimated that there would be capacity in the commercial market tocomplete multibeam survey of the UK Continental Shelf (0-200 nm) within a 7 year period1.Such a programme would cost £30 million a year resulting in a total of £210 million.To put this in perspective, the total cost of evidence to support site recommendations for fourof the south west reef SACs was £2.5m, and yet some stakeholders continue to doubt theevidence base.Similarly, the ENG draws heavily on international good practice and peer reviewed scienceto inform the proposed approach to MCZ selection. But levels of evidence and stakeholdersupport for the 124 draft MCZs in the regional projects final recommendations are likely to bevariable. JNCC s initial analysis (at end May) indicates that only 29 draft MCZs may have green evidence status, there are 47 amber sites, and the rest are red or not assessed.Defra expects formal advice from Natural England and JNCC to include a discussion of theevidence used to support the regional projects site recommendations, including a clearassessment of the scientific certainty of recommended sites and conservation objectives.We ve established robust quality control and assurance processes for the evidence providedby Defra, Natural England and JNCC to the regional projects, but how should evidencesubject to different standards of quality assurance and peer review be weighed in thebalance when hard choices have to be made by Ministers in the end game? Will scrutiny ofsocio-economic data be as rigorous as that of ecological data?Ministers will decide the level of ambition and risk around which draft MCZs to take forwardto public consultation and designation. I m confident they will designate some of the 124draft MCZs by December 2012, and they may want to designate additional sites before 2016as the cost of gathering the necessary evidence and stakeholder engagement allows.1 Cefas & ABPMer. ME5408: Marine Survey Needs to underpin Defra Policy needs. Final Report toDefra. July 2010
Management measuresManagement measures must be reasonable, proportionate and enforceable. And there willalways be a strong preference for voluntary rather than regulatory management measures.But there s ongoing debate about the level of evidence required to justify managementaction by the regulatory authorities - what is reasonable and proportionate and when is itappropriate to adopt a precautionary approach?There are very real concerns about what will be permitted, what will be regulated, what willbe prohibited, and we are all very aware of the implications this may have for those whowork and make their livelihoods from the sea.Natural England and the Wildlife Trusts have spent £1.4m acquiring evidence, includingmultibeam survey last winter, to support site selection and conservation advice for Lyme Bayand Torbay SAC. There are clear risks of damage, and of infraction to UK Government,while fishing with mobile gear continues over the reef features outside the statutory closureyet more than nine months after Defra submitted the site to the EC, no managementmeasures are in place.Furthermore, all other industries have to pay for survey and monitoring to demonstrate noadverse effect, but while the jury is out on whether the general licence is a plan or projectfor the purposes of the Habitats Directive, fishing remains an exception. There are legalarguments either way, which I will not rehearse here. Suffice to say these matters are underclose scrutiny by the EC and environmental NGOs.How will these concerns apply to management of other SACs and MCZs? My sense is thatto avoid an arms race with unaffordable costs of evidence and enforcement placed on thetaxpayer, or an MPA network of unprotected paper parks , there will have to be pragmatismby all parties.Natural England supports the principle of differential management within MPAs and the trialof VMS technology that will help make it happen. We ve published MCZ fisheries guidancedescribing how different activities may impact specific habitats and species, and the likelyconservation outcome of different management options.For MCZs, we believe that where uncertainty remains it may be best to delay progressingmanagement measures i.e. apply an adaptive management approach as the evidencebase and our understanding of pressures and impacts on designated features allows.That s why we re supporting casework to develop MPA compliant shellfisheries (e.g. seedmussel capture on the Exe Estuary), and trial projects in the Deben estuary and ChichesterHarbour, where we re providing financial support to the native oyster recovery project. We vealso helped fund a project to assess threats to native oyster in the Solent.And we re working with the Scallop Association to develop a Good Practice Guide, which isan important step towards our common goal of a sustainable scallop industry, by providingadvice on sensitive habitats and how to develop management strategies for MPAs.Reference areasReference areas, similar to the no-take zones at Lundy and Flamborough Head2, wherenature is left to its own devices, will have an important role to play in the MPA network2 Lundy and Flamborough Head NTZs together extend to <5 square kilometres
broadening our understanding of how the marine environment rebounds when all extractive,depositional or human-derived disturbing or damaging activities are curtailed.It s nonsense to suggest that this means closing the sea to industry and other sea usersreference areas will be the exception not the rule and they are not scientific playgrounds.They will help ensure that decisions about MPA management measures are based on thebest available evidence. And the information they provide may well lead to more permissivemanagement regimes in the future.A new study of European marine reserves by the Partnership for Interdisciplinary Studies ofCoastal Oceans shows clear benefits of this type of marine reserve.Scientists recorded increases in biomass (up by 250%), abundance (126% more abundant),body size (15% bigger) and species diversity (up by 19%).We ve recently published this report on Natural England s website.Impact assessmentGovernment is clear that stakeholders need to have the opportunity to influence choices onhow sites could be managed to achieve their conservation objectives. The managementoptions identified by stakeholders will inform the IA. The IA will: Identify which activities need managing to achieve the conservation objectives; Identify the management options to achieve the conservation objectives; Provide information that provides assurance that the management options are practical and feasible (e.g. are they enforceable); Comment on the likely effectiveness of different management options to achieve the conservation objectives; and Assess the potential impact of different management options (costs and benefits).Defra expects a national IA, with regional summaries covering all of the 124 draft MCZs, tobe submitted with formal advice from Natural England and JNCC.Opportunities to influence choices to be madeThe regional projects stakeholder groups have been given opportunities to: Apply the network design criteria to identify draft MCZs in different ways; Choose between alternative sites available to represent a particular feature; Decide where to co-locate MCZs with existing MPAs and socio-economic activities; Identify the location and size of reference areas; Determine the conservation objectives and management options to inform the IA.This means that stakeholder groups can be spatially efficient and minimize the impact ontheir activities as they prepare to submit their final draft MCZ site recommendations.Natural England and JNCC will not change the stakeholder groups recommendations, butwe will consider what further advice may be needed to meet the ENG criteria. Whilerespecting devolution arrangements, JNCC will provide an assessment of the extent towhich the stakeholder groups recommendations together with existing MPAs, meet therequirements of the Marine Act (section 123) for an ecologically coherent UK MPA network.Public consultation next year will give stakeholders another opportunity to express theirviews. Ministers will then decide which sites to designate by December 2012.
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