Page last updated at 11:56 GMT, Thursday, 10 May 2012 12:56 UK

Environment Committee

A number of concerns were raised over the Marine Bill, on 10 May 2012.

The bill contains provisions for marine planning and nature conservation within Northern Ireland's territorial waters.

Tommy Mayne, regional director of the British Association for Shooting and Conservation, highlighted his issues with one particular clause within the bill during a meeting of the environment committee.

He claimed the ability of byelaws to make provision for different cases would mean there would be higher protected areas within marine conservation zones without there being any requirement to justify their designation.

"We are not opposed to the Marine Bill in its entirety as there are parts of the bill which will undoubtedly benefit marine life and biodiversity and as conservationists we must welcome that part of the bill," he said

"However, we have concerns in relation to other parts of the bill that are ambiguous and therefore open to misinterpretation and potential abuse".

Mr Mayne said he was against the creation of a Marine Management Organisation (MMO) as he believed the responsibility for managing the marine environment should remain with the Department of the Environment.

Lyall Plant, chief executive of Countryside Alliance Ireland, said he supported the bill in principle but wanted "to ensure that unsympathetic parties do not use the bill to necessarily prohibit or restrict legitimate rural pursuits".

He said this in turn would result in adverse social, economic and cultural consequences for Northern Ireland.

Prof Tim Howard, policy advisor for the Institute for Archaeologists, said he "generally welcomed" the bill, although he said it had not taken the opportunity to allow for the designation of historic marine conservation zones.

Mr Garry Gregg from the Irish Federation of Sea Anglers said he had "serious concerns" about proposed future increases in aquaculture.

"This has the potential of damaging our marine environment and reducing recreational sea angling availability," he said.

Environment committee membership

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