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Last Updated: Monday, 12 March 2007, 15:08 GMT
Call for extended marine powers
Shores of Easter Ross (Pic: Iain Maclean)
The new marine powers would extend 200 miles out to sea
Powers to manage the seas around Scotland up to 200 miles out from the coast should be transferred to Holyrood, according to a new report.

An advisory group to the Scottish Executive has put forward plans to create a Scottish Marine Management Organisation.

It wants the body to have additional planning powers and more responsibility for fisheries and nature conservation.

The current devolved/reserved mix for marine management is very complex.

Holyrood has full competence for all activities in the coastal and marine environments, up to 12 nautical miles from shore.

It also has responsibility for fisheries management up to 200 nautical miles from the coastline.

Report welcomed

However, shipping and oil and gas issues are largely reserved.

The proposed strategy would see the new body managing a much bigger area and dealing with interests as diverse as commercial fisheries and tourism.

It also suggests a process to better co-ordinate both land and sea-based coastal activities and ways to improve marine nature conservation.

Environment Minister Ross Finnie said: "I want to ensure the long-term sustainability of Scotland's marine environment, which supports a huge variety of economic activity.

"I welcome the report which is a significant contribution to our thinking on managing the marine environment."

The advisory group was made up of about 25 members with an interest in Scotland's coasts and seas, including fishing, industry and environmental groups.

Lloyd Austin, head of policy at the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) Scotland, welcomed the group's recommendations.

"Scotland has truly picked up the pace in securing proper protection for our seas," he said.

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