ARCHIVE: Key areas covered by the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009
For a more detailed explanation of the subjects covered by the Act, see the Policy Paper (PDF 940 KB).
These are the key areas of interest:
- Marine Management Organisation
- Marine Planning
- Marine Licensing
- Marine Nature Conservation
- Fisheries Management and Marine Enforcement
- Environmental Data and Information
- Migratory and Freshwater Fisheries
- Coastal Access
- Coastal and Estuary Management
A series of maps (PDF 608 KB) have been created to help explain how the Act applies to different areas of the seas around the UK. The maps are intended as a guide to help understanding of the Act: they are indicative only and not to scale. In areas where provisions apply to the offshore areas adjacent to Wales or Northern Ireland, this is shown with text rather than boundaries on the map.
The Government has set up the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) to deliver many of our objectives for the marine area. The organisation is a centre of marine expertise, provides a consistent and unified approach, delivers improved co-ordination of information and data and reduces administrative burdens. The integration will provide benefits from joined up delivery and economies of scale that could not be realised by placing those functions in separate organisations. For information on the MMO, see the MMO website. Defra’s brochure ‘Managing Marine Resources: The Marine Management Organisation’ (PDF 1.2 MB) provides some background information on the MMO. See also a factsheet on the Marine Management Organisation and science (PDF 190KB)
The Act creates a strategic marine planning system that clarifies our marine objectives and priorities for the future, and directs decision makers and users towards more efficient, sustainable use and protection of our marine resources. The first stage of this marine planning system will be the creation of a marine policy statement to create a more integrated approach to marine management and setting both our short and longer-term objectives for sustainable use of the marine environment. It is then intended that the second stage will be the creation of a series of marine plans, which will implement the policy statement in specific areas, using information about spatial uses and needs in those areas.
Without a proper appreciation of the location of seabed resources and important features of nature conservation it is difficult to manage marine activities in a sustainable manner in order to achieve the aims of the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009. Seabed maps therefore provide a tool to help deliver integrated marine management.
Marine seabed maps provide fundamental information for the sustainable management of offshore resources. The ability to visualise a virtual seabed has led to significant interest in the use of maps for nature conservation, economic development and resolving conflicts of multiple impacts on the seafloor.
Work on seabed mapping is currently being undertaken by the Centre for Environment, Fisheries & Aquaculture Science (Cefas).
The changes that the Act makes to the marine licensing system will result in better, more consistent licensing decisions delivered more efficiently by a system that is proportionate and easier to understand and to use. They will integrate delivery across a range of sectors and, through the creation of a Marine Management Organisation and the functions it will perform, be a vital link in the chain from planning to enforcement. See the Marine Licensing pages for more information.
A joint Defra and Welsh Assembly Government publication: Managing our marine resources – licensing under the Marine Bill (PDF 1.86 MB) explains the changes made to the marine licensing and enforcement systems through the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009.
The Act introduces new tools for conservation of marine wildlife that together with existing ones can: halt the deterioration in the state of the UK’s marine biodiversity and promote recovery where practicable, support healthy functioning and resilient marine ecosystems, ensure environmental considerations are at the heart of decision-making processes, and provide mechanisms that can deliver current and future European and international conservation obligations. See the Marine Biodiversity pages for more information.
Fisheries and environmental management arrangements are strengthened by the Act so that more effective action can be taken to conserve marine ecosystems and help achieve a sustainable and profitable fisheries sector. As part of modernising inshore fisheries management in England, Sea Fisheries Committees (SFCs) will be replaced by Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities (IFCAs). See the Fisheries management pages for more information.
The Act highlights the importance of high quality marine data and the need for a sound evidence base for making informed policy and management decisions. The MMO will provide a renewed focus and centre of expertise for the collection, storage and accessibility of up-to-date data and information relating to the marine area. The scale of information that the MMO will need to manage will range from a UK wide basis to very local issues. It will need scientific and environmental data as well as socio-economic data.
The Act modernises powers for the management of migratory and freshwater fisheries. In particular the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 introduces a new licensing and authorisation system for fishing activities, give the Environment Agency powers to make emergency byelaws to respond to unforeseen threats to fish stocks and allow for the introduction of a new authorisation scheme for the movement of live fish in order to better protect national and local biodiversity.
The Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 enables the creation of a continuous signed and managed route around the coast plus areas of spreading room, for example beaches, dunes and cliffs, where it is appropriate to do so. The coast is very popular with people for beach activities and wider forms of recreation. There is evidence that walking is the single most popular activity along the coast. Research shows that 30% of the coast has no access.
Improving access will give people the confidence and certainty that wherever they arrive at the coast there will be clear, well managed access in either direction, and they would be able to enjoy a rich and varied natural environment. See the Access to the English Coast pages for more information.
Current arrangements for coordinating activities in busy estuaries and other coastal areas can be complex and at times, inconsistent. There is no single overall piece of coastal legislation or management mechanism in the UK: on land, Local Authorities have a key responsibility for planning and at sea, management mainly falls to central government departments, who have traditionally followed a sectoral approach to managing activities in the marine area. It has long been thought that if we are to look at the coast in a more sustainable way, we should aim to improve coordination between these mechanisms and communication between all those with an interest in coastal issues. This is becoming more important as the proposals for a new system of marine planning are developed. We therefore need to ensure that there is coherence between these proposals and the different policies and management processes at work in coastal areas, i.e. that we have coastal integration or integrated coastal zone management. See the Integrated Coastal Zone Management pages for more information.
Page last modified: 01 May 2010