At least 85 pieces of legislation and 13 UK and Scottish departments govern the marine environment. As a result, marine regulation is piecemeal and management is: sectoral rather than integrated; reactive rather than planned; driven by short term decisions rather than on a long-term basis and based on resource exploitation rather than limited by the capacity of the marine ecosystem to support uses. As a result fish stocks, marine species and habitats and coastal communities suffer.
Although marine species and habitats straddle political boundaries, Westminster jurisdiction over most marine activities stops outside Scotland’s 12 nautical mile (nm) territorial limit: DEFRA recognise this. “Where they have responsibility for the management of their territorial waters it will be for the devolved administrations to determine the need to bring forward any new legislation’. So, even if a UK Marine Bill delivers a commitment to Marine Spatial Planning and new MPAs, it can only apply to reserved matters and will not cover most activities taking place in Scottish waters. Joined-up management in Scottish territorial waters requires devolved legislation.