News In Focus
Marine bill out for consultation
The Scottish Government is seeking views on its first marine bill, aimed at balancing conservation of the seas with economic growth.
Proposals in Sustainable Seas For All - A Consultation On Scotland's First Marine Bill include:
- improved conservation to ensure a healthy future for Scotland's unique marine wildlife, including internationally important populations of seabirds
- a new marine planning system and a streamlined licensing system to encourage economic investment in areas such as renewable energy
- measures to ensure a viable future for Scotland's traditional and new marine industries
- the creation of Marine Scotland combining the efforts of existing bodies to act as a champion for Scotland's seas.
The government claims that Scotland's seas are among the most biologically productive in the world, containing more than 40,000 species and internationally important populations of marine mammals and sea birds.
The seas generate more than £2.2 billion for the Scottish economy and Scotland has 25% of Europe's total tidal and offshore wind resource and 10% of its potential in wave power. Scotland is also a top marine tourism destination.
Fishing and fish farming account for 60% of all food exports from Scotland with a value of £422 million.
Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead said: "In the 21st century, we need to ensure that we have arrangements in place to provide a sustainable future for our marine environment and the many industries that depend on productive and healthy seas.
"Striking the right balance between the long-term viability and growth of all these industries and the enhanced protection of our special marine environment is at the heart of our proposed bill.
"I would like to encourage everyone in Scotland who has an interest in our seas to give their view on the proposals I have set out today. That will in turn help us produce legislation that will secure and protect our seas for generations to come."
It is proposed that Marine Scotland will be based on existing organisations that will be brought together. Its creation will streamline the governance of Scotland's seas.