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Last Updated: Sunday, 17 October, 2004, 14:43 GMT 15:43 UK
More marine conservation needed
Dolphin leaping
The government admits new legislation may be required
Campaigners in the South West are pressing for tougher legislation to protect the marine environment.

They say current conservation measures for the natural wonders of the sea lag far behind the legal protection given to wildlife on land.

The RSPB says it wants a bill to protect the diversity of wildlife in the region's coastal waters.

South West director, Tony Richardson, says sustaining the seas will help the region's economy and fishing industry.

There is growing public concern about the seas, about fish stocks, about the environment in the seas.
Tony Blair, September 2004

He said: "If the seas aren't good enough to sustain natural life, be they gannets, be it fish, then they're certainly not going to be good enough to sustain the fishing industry, to sustain a bathing beach, to sustain anything that makes us all so pleased to go to the seaside"

The call for more protection follows a report by English Nature which says a zone set up 18 months ago around Lundy Island in the Bristol Channel to reverse the decline in fishing stocks and wildlife, has proved to be very successful.

In September, the Prime Minister spoke about the possibility of a new Marine Bill, saying there were strong arguments for a new approach to managing the UK's seas.

Mr Blair admitted that although there were a number of marine areas in the South West with some levels of protection, there were not the proper means to manage the seas in an environmentally sustainable way.

Kittiwakes are declining rapidly

He said: "There is growing public concern about the seas, about fish stocks, about the environment in the seas.

"We have much better ways of knowing and regulating what happens on land then we do at sea.

"A number of reviews have recommended that we update our legislative framework, which is what we would hope to do through a Marine Bill."

Campaigners in the South West say the legislation cannot come soon enough.

Deep-sea trawling's 'great harm'
06 Oct 04  |  Science/Nature
The deafening sound of the seas
22 Sep 04  |  Science/Nature

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