2. Purpose and Intended Effect
The Scottish Government is committed to delivering a Scottish Marine Bill which will put in place mechanisms to improve stewardship of the seas around Scotland. For marine planning and marine nature conservation new powers will be granted out to 200 nautical miles (nm) from the territorial baseline. In addition to simplifying existing marine legislation, the proposed Marine Bill aims to enhance the long-term viability and growth of the various marine industries with greater stewardship of Scotland's special marine environment.
The Bill proposes a new legislative and management framework for the delivery of sustainable economic growth in the marine environment, with proposals relating to:
- marine planning: delivering a new system of marine planning for the sustainable use of Scotland's seas;
- marine licensing: a streamlined and modernised marine licensing and consent system in order to reduce the regulatory burden;
- marine conservation: improvement to marine nature conservation to safeguard and protect Scotland's marine assets, with "ecosystem" at the heart of management and closer integration of marine historic environment site protection with marine nature conservation;
- science and data generation; and
- a new structure, Marine Scotland, to deliver sustainable seas for all.
As part of the legislative process, the Scottish Government has contracted Risk & Policy Analysts Ltd ( RPA) and ABP Marine Environmental Research ( ABPmer) to contribute to the delivery of a Regulatory Impact Assessment ( RIA) which sets out the costs, benefits and other impacts of proposed legislation.
The Scottish coast and sea areas are amongst the most diverse and productive in the world. They support over 8,000 complex and 36,000 single cell species 1. This includes internationally important species such basking sharks, leatherback turtles, 70% of Europe's population of grey seals, as well as internationally important colonies of seabirds; they also support some 16,000 jobs in fishing and aquaculture.
Since the mid 1980s, there has been a significant growth in competition for the use of marine assets and space, leading to a broad range of pressures on the marine area. In addition, a series of legislative changes are also occurring at UK level, European and international level that support the need for change.
At the UK level, the UK Government issued a Draft Marine Bill in April 2008. The Draft Bill sets out legislative proposals with a focus on marine planning and marine conservation. Other measures include:
- the creation of a Marine Management Organisation ( MMO);
- reforms to the licensing system;
- reforms to the management of marine fisheries (including a system for administrative penalties), inland and migratory fisheries; and
- access to coastal land.
Consultation on the draft closed on the 26 June 2008; the UK Government published the results of the consultation on 25 September 2008. Overall, respondents were supportive of the proposals for the draft Bill (although they did seek clarification on a number of issues, such as linkages with other legislation and transitional arrangements for the MMO, among others).
At the European level, the Marine Strategy Framework Directive ( MSFD), adopted in June 2008, proposes a framework whereby European Marine Regions will be established on the basis of geographical and environmental criteria. Marine strategies will have to be developed by the different Member States in the marine region setting out a programme of cost-effective measures to achieve "good environmental status" by 2021. Marine planning will be a key area of development under the Directive. The MSFD forms the environmental pillar of the EU's maritime policy. In June 2006, the European Commission published a Green Paper, "Towards a Future Maritime Policy for the Union: A European Vision for the Oceans and Seas". The aim of this policy initiative was to balance economic, social and environmental interests in maritime policy. The Green Paper's five main chapters deal with maritime development, quality of life in coastal regions, tools to manage human relations with the oceans, maritime governance, and the European maritime heritage and identity.
Finally, at international level, the Oslo and Paris Convention ( OSPAR) obliges signatory countries to develop an ecologically coherent network of well managed marine protected areas by 2010. In this regard, the Scottish Government has voted that it should have the responsibility for delivery of marine nature conservation, including the network of marine protected areas, to meet such international obligations.
2.3 Rationale for Government Intervention
The seas are a major asset for Scotland and generate more than £2.2 billion annually for the Scottish economy. It is widely acknowledged, however, that there has been a major investment shortfall in the monitoring of the marine environment. It is also known that this biologically diverse environment is under pressure from many human activities which, either individually or combined, have the potential to permanently alter the fundamental ecosystem processes. Such pressures stem from direct uses of the sea such as fishing, oil and gas extraction, recreational activities and tourism as well as other pressures originating from anthropogenic sources, i.e. climate change. In some cases such fragile ecosystems may already have been affected (Scottish Government, 2008 2), for example:
- the population of common seals in Orkney has declined by over 40% since 2001.
- Arctic tern numbers have reduced by 95% between 1986 and 2004;
- the population of bottlenose dolphins in the Moray Firth may have declined between 1990 and 2005;
- some fish stocks are not being harvested sustainably in some Scottish waters;
- a long term increase in salinity is being observed in offshore Atlantic waters. Salinity is much more variable in the North Sea waters;
- whilst overall the primary production of Scottish seas is in a favourable state, changes in the seasonal cycles of zooplankton are potentially vulnerable to climatic changes. Zooplankton are the main diet for many seabirds and the underpinning for marine ecosystems;
- thermal expansion of the sea and melting ice is leading to sea level rise. All Scottish mainland tide gauges have recorded sea-level rise over the last 100 years.
- 2% of the country's coastline is subject to coastal erosion; and
- problems remain with litter on Scottish beaches; 90% of the rubbish contains plastics and 80% comes from land-based sources.
The aim of the Scottish Marine Bill is to manage Scotland's coasts and seas in a way that balances the interests of resource use and resource protection, to create a more stable environment, making it more attractive for long-term investment. Successive enquiries have identified a number of necessary changes 3:
- to clarify overall objectives for the marine environment and meet them more effectively and affordably;
- to manage growing, often competing demands for use of marine space, including balancing environmental and socio-economic considerations. This includes a need to provide greater certainty for those proposing developments in marine areas;
- to meet existing and new marine obligations and aspirations. We need to develop and implement ecosystem-based approaches to marine management and make improvements to marine nature conservation;
- to improve integration and reduce complexity of marine management and regulation, in line with wider Scottish Government and EU policy aims.
- to give local communities a stronger voice in marine matters and to ensure accountability at the local and Scottish levels on marine decision making.
- to ensure a strong and coherent Scottish voice and play an effective role in the wider management of UK seas; and
- to lead the way in Scotland on how the seas in North West Europe can be managed to strike the right balance between economic, social and environmental priorities.
Scotland's marine environment has an historical dimension that contributes to its quality and character. Marine historic assets such as historic shipwrecks are also positive contributors to the cultural, economic and social fabric of Scotland. People want to see the most important marine historic assets safeguarded and used sustainably for the benefit of current and future generations. In 2004-2005, the Department of Culture Media and Sport ( DCMS) and the devolved administrations carried out a public consultation, Protecting the Marine Historic Environment, Making the System Work Better. Responses to this and extensive scoping work concluded that existing mechanisms were no longer fit for purpose. This work resulted in proposals for new legislation to protect the marine historic environment as set out in the White Paper Heritage Protection for the 21st Century and subsequently to a draft UK Heritage Protection Bill. In November 2007, Scottish Ministers withdrew from UK-wide marine provisions in the Heritage Protection Bill in favour of legislating on the protection of marine historic assets within the Scottish Marine Bill.
If there were no Government intervention, integrated planning of activities would be constrained, with a continued risk of conflicts between different users of marine and coastal areas, a less efficient use of marine space and deterioration of the marine environment. While it is recognised that considerable efforts have been made by some sectors in recent years to develop more strategic and inclusive approaches to development planning, these remain essentially sectoral initiatives and there continues to be deficiencies in the integration and co-ordination of planning across Government.