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BMF Comments On Marine Bill White Paper

by Robin Pilgrim,, London

20 June 2007

Responding to a consultation issued by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on the Marine Bill White Paper published earlier this year, the British Marine Federation (BMF) has urged the Government to ensure that practical measures are included in forthcoming legislation to benefit the leisure marine sector.

The Federation, representing over 1,600 members, stated that it welcomed the vision of "Clean, healthy, safe, productive, and biologically diverse ocean and seas" outlined in the white paper, entitled 'A Sea Change'.

However, the BMF is pushing for both a simplified licensing regime and the introduction of a tailored marine planning system focussing on the marine environment, rather than a replication of the current land based planning system.

Regarding the licensing system for marine leisure activities, the BMF called on the Government to simplify the current regime, which the White Paper itself recognises as complex and overlapping. The BMF announced that it looks forward to liaising further with Government on the drafting of a new and much more effective regime in the run up to the introduction of the Marine Bill.

The Federation further stated that:

"Whilst welcoming the main provisions in the White Paper, the BMF has also set out serious concerns posed by the potential of over-burdensome regulation of marine activities. This includes ensuring that any new system of dredging works should be flexible and avoid applying controls where there is no reason to do so. BMF is also concerned about the effect on marine leisure activities of DEFRA's proposed system of fixed penalty notices, which the organisation believes would be impractical."

"In addition, the submission to the consultation tackled the issue of the establishment of a Marine Management Organisation (MMO) - with the BMF setting out its preferences on the setting up of this important new public body. The BMF agrees with Government that this should provide a consistent and unified approach, and is urging DEFRA to ensure that the leisure marine industry is represented on the board of the MMO to shape practical proposals."

Sally Banham, Assistant Director of the BMF, concluded:

"The BMF welcomes the main thrust of the Government's proposals. We have been working in partnership with Maritime UK, the RYA and the Sea Users and Developers Group to push for practical ideas and more details to be included in the Government's plans."

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