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Joan Edwards

Joan Edwards is the Head of Living Seas at The Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts.

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Lessons to be learned from the first Marine Plan

Posted: Wednesday 2nd April 2014 by Joan

Flamborough cpt David Nichols

Today the Government announced the publication of the first ever plans for the future of our seas with a Marine Plan covering the waters off the East of England from Flamborough Head to Felixstowe.

Designed and implemented well, marine plans should provide a clear, robust and well-defined strategy for economic development, but not at the expense of good environmental protection 

This plan, one of 10 around English waters, has been designed to better manage the sustainable development of our seas. The Wildlife Trusts have been an active stakeholder in its development.  Whilst we welcome the intent and ambition to streamline and bring clarity to development in our seas, we have concerns about its ability to deliver truly sustainable development.

We are concerned that the plan merely signposts to existing policies and gives an oversimplified snapshot of activity with no real vision for the future sustainable use of our seas.  

If designed and implemented well, marine plans should provide a clear, robust and well-defined strategy for economic development, but not at the expense of good environmental protection.

As it stands, this plan merely describes the status quo without providing any clear direction for the development, use and protection of the specific waters for which it is designed.  Indeed one of our concerns is the lack of spatial detail; it could almost be written for anywhere.

The East Plan is the first of its kind and whilst we recognise that this is a learning curve for everyone and improvements can be made in the future, we are disappointed at the lack of ambition and see it as an opportunity wasted.  

We will continue to work with the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) in the development of the East plan and its implementation, and in learning from the experience to make the future plans more fit for purpose.  We believe that marine planning is still the best way forward to effectively manage our seas in a truly sustainable manner and so look forward to working with the MMO on the development of the South plan.

You can find out more about the Marine Management Organisation and the East Marine Plan here.

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