On 3rd April DEFRA published a draft Marine Bill to modernise the regulation of UK waters. At 687 pages (with guidance notes) the draft Bill is certainly comprehensive but does it deliver? The sensible place to start on this analysis is to look at those activities which cause the greatest threat to the fecundity of the sea and to test what effects the Bill will have in their regulation.
Global fish landings have been declining since 1988 at the rate of 500,000 tones per year. Current projections estimate that fish availability will be down to 70 percent of today’s levels by 2050. Not only does this represent an appalling destruction of biomass in terms of conservation but, given the current crisis in global food supplies, this is a significant threat to the stable supply of cheap food we have come to expect. It is therefore appropriate to explore the Bill from the perspective of changes to fisheries management.