17th October 2018
Established 1872. Online since 1996.

Marine Bill sails on through first stage in Scottish Parliament

0 comments, , by , in Fishing & Sea

A new era for the waters around Shetland’s rugged coastline came a step closer on Thursday when the Marine Bill passed its first parliamentary stage.

The Scottish Government also announced it was to have new responsibilities for safeguarding the health of all Scottish waters out to 200 nautical miles in implementing new European regulations, in addition to an earlier decision to give Scotland responsibility for marine planning out to 200 miles.

Shetland plays an important role in Scottish seas, which according to statistics generate industry worth around £22 billion (including oil and gas); provide 50,000 jobs (excluding oil and gas); support 6,500 species of plants and animals; and hold a quarter of Europe’s total tidal and offshore wind resource and 10 per cent of its potential in wave power.

Environment minister Richard Lochhead said: “Scotland has a long and proud history as a maritime nation and is shaped and defined by its waters. We have one of Europe’s biggest coastlines and our seas are rich in fish stocks, have the potential to power the world and generate billions of pounds for the Scottish economy.

“Today’s vote and the announcement that we are to have additional responsibilities extending out to 200 nautical miles represent a huge step towards a sustainable and economically-viable future for our marine environment.”

The Bill, which seeks to protect Scotland’s marine environment for future generations, will now return to the rural affairs and environment committee for more detailed scrutiny. An amendment will be introduced at that stage to add climate change objectives to the new national marine plan to help Scotland meet its world-leading emission targets.

Mr Lochhead said: “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.

“Our waters are home to some of the most spectacular wildlife and marine habitats on the planet, with 44,000 species and almost half of the world’s entire population of grey seals. They also make a huge contribution to the economy through industries such as fishing. The measures contained in our new Marine Bill will help find the right balance and ensure our environment prospers for decades to come.

“Marine renewables are a powerful weapon in our fight against climate change but progress on this front must be achieved alongside environmental safeguards. This legislation gives Scotland the powers and flexibility to manage our seas and meet these challenges head on.”

About Jim Tait

Jim Tait is news editor at The Shetland Times.

View other stories by »

Your Comment

Please note, it is the policy of The Shetland Times to publish comments and letters from named individuals only. Both forename and surname are required.

Comments are moderated. Contributors must observe normal standards of decency and tolerance for the opinions of others.

The views expressed are those of contributors and not of The Shetland Times.

The Shetland Times reserves the right to decline or remove any contribution without notice or stating reason.

Comments are limited to 200 words but please email longer articles or letters to editorial@shetlandtimes.co.uk for consideration and include a daytime telephone number and your address. If emailing information in confidence please put "Not for publication" in both the subject line and at the top of the main message.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.