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Controversy over government approach to marine protection zones

29 April 2013

It seems the Government can’t please anyone where marine conservation is concerned.

The Government has proposed to establish less than a quarter of the 127 proposed ‘marine protection zones’ (MPZs) suggested by a consultation.

Now, caught between criticism from environmental academics and conservationists on the one side and the fishing industry on the other, Environment Minister Richard Benyon’s attempt to strike a balance by proposing 31 MPZs has prompted a flurry of controversy about the ‘science’ surrounding the issue. Environmental scientists are adamant that a precautionary approach is required; the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations respond that this is “lobbying… regardless of scientific evidence,” while DEFRA are apparently asking for more evidence on the sites.

The weight of the disregarded scientific advice from the consultation raises the question of whether there will be scope for a judicial review on ‘irrationality’ grounds when the first sites are designated in 2013, but for now the arguments will continue.

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