Clause 117 — Grounds for designation of MCZs

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 9:30 pm on 26th October 2009.

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Photo of Austin Mitchell Austin Mitchell Labour, Great Grimsby 9:30 pm, 26th October 2009

I shall not detain the House long, but I am concerned to introduce the principle that the existing social and economic interests of fishing communities be a dominant consideration in deciding on and running MCZs. The embryonic science that could underpin a scientific basis for designation does not exist-we do not know enough about the marine environment and the science is not strong enough. Therefore, a science-only approach is not going to work-it needs to be supplemented by a concern for safeguarding the interests of coastal communities, which have a special interest in keeping the fishing industry going and in fishing in such areas.

In other words, the science is uncertain, but fishermen's livings are clear and certain, and they need to be taken into account. Amendments 16, 19 and 21, which I tabled, simply emphasise the importance of the social and economic interests of existing fishing communities and the fishing industry in the zones. To my mind, that must be a dominant and important consideration, but it is not in the Bill.

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