LINK Marine Taskforce Written Evidence to the Rural Affairs and Environment Committee on Stage 1 of the Marine (Scotland) Bill.
We are concerned, that the provisions in relation to environmental recovery are much weaker, with no provisions to improve or recover the ecological status of Scottish waters beyond the boundaries of marine protected areas. The requirement to promote recovery of the marine environment as a whole is enshrined in various international and national agreements, including the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Marine Strategy Framework Directive and the recently published UK High Level Marine Objectives. The key outcome of the Bill, the one by which its ultimate success is measured, must be a healthy, well functioning and biodiverse marine environment. In order for the Bill to contribute to this outcome we believe that objectives relating to the health of marine species, habitats and ecosystems (marine ecosystem objectives) must play a pivotal role. Such objectives must provide direction to, and underpin evaluation of, the effectiveness of the marine planning system. There must be a duty on public bodies to contribute to their achievement. We are concerned that the Bill allows for ecosystem objectives to be traded-off against short-term social and economic objectives, resulting in a continued deterioration of both the sea’s health and its productivity.