John Griffiths, Minister for Environment and Sustainable Development
Earlier this year, the Welsh Government started a staged public engagement and consultation process on Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) setting out the science behind 10 potential site options. We received almost 7000 responses to the consultation, providing a wealth of information about the social, cultural and economic make up of local coastal communities across Wales, the potential implications for them and strong and different views about how best to take forward MCZs in Wales.
I am therefore announcing a period of additional work to reflect on and fully explore all the information received, to inform how we move ahead with MCZs in Wales. This additional work is in line with our planned staged approach to listen to feedback at each stage, respond and then seek further views from all interested parties before deciding on next steps. It supports our commitment to work across policy areas in a joined up way.
To take this work forward, a task and finish team is being established within the Welsh Government. The job of this cross cutting team will be to advise and make recommendations on how we take forward MCZs in Wales in order to contribute to a wider network of marine protected areas. Key considerations for the team will include the responses to the consultation, the MCZ projects in the other UK administrations and the Welsh Government’s commitment to sustainable development, communities and jobs, as well as biodiversity. The team will reflect the ecosystems based approach being embraced by both the Welsh Government and Natural Resources Wales.
The Task and Finish Team will work alongside stakeholders who will come together as a new Stakeholder Focus Group which will contribute to and provide challenge to the work of the team, testing ideas and advising on practical solutions. Peter Davies, Wales’ Commissioner for Sustainable Futures will Chair the new stakeholder group.
I expect the team to report to me by the end of April 2013. There will then be further consultation, especially with local communities, on the outcome of this work to inform how we proceed in Wales.
The Task and Finish Team will be made up of members from:
- The Environment Agency
- The Countryside Council for Wales
- The Joint Nature Conservation Committee
- The Centre for Environment, Fisheries & Aquaculture Science
- Welsh Government Fisheries Unit
- Welsh Government Marine Branch
For the Stakeholder Focus Group we will be inviting representatives from (but not limited to):
- Business & Industry sectors;
- Coastal/ community organisations;
- Environmental organisations;
- Fishing organisations;
- Local Government – county, town and community;
- Recreation & leisure sectors;
- Tourism sectors.