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Our marine environment is a precious resource - Poots

Friday, 30 October 2009

Environment Minister Edwin Poots today highlighted the importance of protecting our local marine environment.

Mr Poots was speaking as he launched a consultation proposing new legislation on the Marine Strategy Framework Directive. This Directive sets a programme of actions which must be put in place by 2015, to achieve “good environmental status” by 2020.

The Minister said that the UK wide legislation was necessary to assess, and where necessary modify, the impact of activities on our marine environment, through planned monitoring, regularly updated targets and appropriate, cost-effective actions.

He explained: “As an island-based society, the sea has always been significant to Northern Ireland, not only for recreation but for many as a place of work. Fishing communities along the coast depend upon the resources of the sea to make a livelihood, while larger shipping vessels make use of our ports and rely on safe navigation through our waters.

“Other ventures have become important in the marine area, such as the development of marine based energy initiatives, looking at ways to harness the power of both wind and sea. The natural environment, especially our coastal areas, has incredible potential for increased use for tourism and leisure activities.”

He continued: “I am committed to ensuring that human based change does not compromise the ability of Northern Ireland’s marine environment to deliver economic, social and cultural benefits to current and future generations and I look forward to playing an active role in delivering this long term commitment.”

Notes to editors:

1. The Marine Strategy Framework Directive came into effect on 17 June 2008 and establishes a framework for community action in the field of marine environmental policy. It sets out a time bound programme of actions for the integrated, coordinated and consistent management of our marine environment until the year 2020.

2. The objective of the Directive is to enable the sustainable use of marine goods and services and to ensure the marine environment is safeguarded for the use of future generations. The Directive requires EU Member States to achieve Good Environmental Status (GES) in their marine waters by the year 2020.

3. The first step in implementing the Directive is transposition which must be achieved by 15 July 2010. This involves establishing the legal framework which will be used to deliver the Directive and is the subject of this public consultation from 30 October 2009 to 22 January 2010.

4. Other key stages of the implementation process which the public will be consulted on are:

  • 2012 Assessment of marine waters:
  • Determination of GES

Establishment of environmental targets and indicators

  • ·2014 Establishment and implementation of monitoring programme
  • ·2015 Development of programme of measures

5. The consultation will be available from 30 October 2009 on .

6. All media inquiries should be directed to the Department of the Environment Press Office on 028 9054 0003. Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned