Conservationists are disappointed that plans for a Marine Bill to protect ocean wildlife and habitats have been left out of the Queen's Speech.
Scientists have warned of depleting fish stocks
The bill, promised in Labour's 2005 manifesto, was meant to be the first step towards managing coastal areas.
WWF director Phil King said he was "bitterly disappointed" the government was "continuing to drag its heels".
The Marine Conservation Society was upset at the "slowdown in the legislative process".
Before the 2005 general election, Labour, the Tories and the Lib Dems all promised new legislation to protect marine wildlife, should they be elected.
It came amid concern about depleted fish stocks and the environment in the seas.
This month scientists warned that the world's fish stocks may disappear altogether within 50 years, if no action is taken.
Labour's Marine Bill aimed to balance the demands of fishermen, the leisure industry and ports, with the need to protect coastal habitats and the creatures living in them.
But it was not included in the Queen's Speech on Wednesday.
The Marine Conservation Society said it expected a White Paper to be published next March, to be included in a Marine Bill for 2007 to 2008, but was "bitterly disappointed" at the delay.
MCS officer Melissa Moore said: "Another year, another consultation. But we will use that time wisely to ensure the UK Marine Bill meets the needs of our seas."
Lib Dem environment spokesman Chris Huhne MP added: "Dropping the Marine Bill is a blow to coastal areas and our marine environment, which is ill-protected and anarchically managed.
"The current laws are utterly inadequate to protect and enhance our coastal zones and territorial waters."