An Ulster Unionist politician has referred to a bill which contains provisions for marine planning and nature conservation within Northern Ireland's territorial waters as a "lawyer's dream", on 5 March 2012.
Danny Kinahan said the Marine Bill, which was at its second stage, did not "have a lot of power, or the necessary teeth".
He said he was concerned with a lack of timescales and frameworks, the lack of a "good view of cost" and how there was no mention of a formal advisory committee.
The chair of the environment committee, Anna Lo, said the proposed legislation was long overdue and was needed to bring Northern Ireland into line with the rest of the UK.
"The bill will establish a new framework for Northern Ireland's seas based on marine planning, improving management for marine nature conservation and the streamlining of marine licensing," she said.
Environment Minister Alex Attwood said the marine environment was not a limitless resource and explained how the proposed legislation contained an approach based on a need for sustainable principles.
If it successfully passes through the assembly, he said: "All decisions in the marine area or which have implications for it must be made under this legislation."
Sinn Fein's Cathal Boylan said he did not want the bill to place economic benefits against environmental concerns.
The second part of the debate can be viewed