How to Sustain our Seas

22nd September 2004

Why is radical reform needed? Current management of human activities in Scotland’s marine environment is integrated nor co-ordinated. Offshore development, aggregate and oil neither extraction, pipeline and cable laying, fisheries, aquaculture, pollution, shipping and recreational activities vie with one another to operate effectively with many adversely affecting the sea and its life

For a sustainable future, activities in the sea must be managed by integrating environmental, social and economic objectives so human needs and thos of wildlife habitats, and marine processes are met the short and long term. Scotland and the UK are obliged under international and European commitments to sustainably manage our seas and coasts on the basis of an ecosystem-based approach

Our current system falls short on several counts. Management is sectoral rather than intergrated; reactive rather than planned; driven by short term decicions, rather than on a long-term basis; based on resource exploitation rather than limited by the capacity of the marine ecosystem to support uses. To blame is the piecemeal development of marine regulation; adding to existing legislation without a strategic review or reform of the overall legislative and governance framework. The result is a complex management structure made up of Scots Law, UK law, EU and International law and commitments, and a plethora of legislation which is ill fit for purpose, has not incorporated conservation considerations and lacks a coherent framework for managing or policing it.

This discussion paper is 2 of 6 in a series prepared for a seminar on Sustaining Scotland’s Seas

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