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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 November 2006, 17:41 GMT
MPs anger at Marine Bill omission
Defra published a Marine Bill consultation document in March
Two South West MPs have condemned the Government for omitting the Marine Bill from the Queen's speech.

The government pledged to introduce the Bill in their 2005 Election Manifesto.

Torbay MP Adrian Sanders said this was a "wasted opportunity" and that the south coast "urgently needs more marine nature reserves".

West Cornwall MP Andrew George said the current system was "unsustainable" and that many environmentalists and fishermen are astonished.

"The legislation used by local Sea Fisheries Committees is over 100-years-old, archaic and not for today's purposes," said Mr George.

The sea is too often treated as a poorly monitored and damp piece of common land
Andrew George MP

"The sea is too often treated as a poorly monitored and damp piece of common land on which all comers can take a free-for-all approach."

Mr Sanders said the Bill would have offered an opportunity to develop a sustainable plan for the development of the marine and coastal environment, addressing both the "use and protection" of marine resources.

"Without any sort of framework in which to resolve conflicting issues of coastal zone management, further environmental degradation is very likely," he added.

Land is protected by Scientific Sites of Specific Interest whereas there is only one area of the sea which is protected in the whole of the UK- an area off the east coast of Lundy Island.

Current legislation is complex- a total of 36 Acts currently control oil drilling, fishing and extraction of building materials from the seabed. The Marine Bill would put all this under one legislative body.

In March, Defra published "A Marine Bill: A Consultation Document" for which the consultation period was from March to June 2006.

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