THE Northern Ireland Marine Bill is going through its final stage in the Assembly today.
The Bill will give new powers to select and manage Marine Conservation Zones (MCZ’s) to enhance marine biodiversity.
Environment Minister Alex Attwood said: “The introduction of this legislation will mark a major turning point in safeguarding the future of Northern Ireland’s seas and lays the foundations for strategic planning in the marine environment. Our seas are home to some of the world’s most spectacular wildlife and habitats, and have the potential to power our nation through wind and wave and create thousands of new jobs.
“MCZ’s will be flexible in terms of their level of protection. This will be determined using sound scientific evidence, on a site-by-site basis, and with the participation of individuals and groups representing all who use and enjoy the marine environment.
“We owe it to future generations to ensure our seas are managed and harvested sustainably. Economic growth is vital, but it should be balanced with protection for our stunning marine environment. That is why I have set up a specific Marine Division in DOE to lead in this.”
The main contents of the Marine Bill are:
* A National Marine Plan to give greater clarity to decision making in the marine environment and encourage investment
* New powers to select and manage Marine Conservation Zones (MCZ’s) to enhance marine biodiversity
* The powers in the Marine Bill will complement the provisions of the UK Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009, which created new responsibilities for the Department of the Environment on marine planning in offshore waters outside 12 nautical miles (nm) and marine licensing in the inshore.