“Leading marine experts today called for an overhaul of Britain’s fishing laws to preserve sea life for future generations.
At a summit in Edinburgh, hosted by the global environment network WWF, representatives said an Oceans Act was the only way of ending the “”conflicting”" domestic and European policies that were damaging the ocean environment.
Scottish environment minister Rhona Brankin said the Scottish Executive was working to secure the future of the seas around Scotland, which support half of the UK’s fishing fleet.
Delegates were invited to sign the Edinburgh Declaration, which calls for a united approach to managing the seas.
Robert Napier, chief executive of the WWF, said changes were needed to stop the sea being used as a “”dump”" and improve conditions for both marine life and people whose livelihoods depend on the sea.
He said: “”Our agenda is for a healthy marine environment, both in the interests of nature and in the interests of people.”
“”What we are specifically calling for is an Oceans Act. The seas and our coast are subject to hundreds of different regulations covering shipping, coastal protection and habitat protection and they are all over the place.”
“”There are many, many government departments involved in Edinburgh, London and Brussels who are working in conflict. What we are calling for, both at the Westminster level and the devolved level, is a holistic legal framework.”
“”Our oceans respect no political boundaries. Radioactive pollution off the Cumbrian coast affects the seas around the north of Scotland.”"
Mr Napier added that climate change and rising ocean levels were threatening the coastline, with potential consequences for species in intertidal habitats, which he called “”the engine, which fuels our biodiversity.”"
Ms Brankin, in a speech to the summit, said policies such as the ??25m decommissioning scheme which is designed to cut the Scottish fishing fleet by 20%, showed the Executive was committed to making the seas sustainable.
She said: “”We recognise there are very serious issues of management and environmental impact and we intend to address these through our consultation on a long-term strategic framework.”
“”The European Commission has admitted that its common fisheries policy has not achieved many of its aims and highlighted the need for a balance between fleet capacity and available resources.”
“”In March I announced a ??25m decommissioning scheme, the biggest single investment ever aimed at restricting the Scottish fishing fleet. We welcome the WWF’s recognition of this significant package.”
“”I believe that the majority of fishermen are genuinely concerned about securing a sustainable ecosystem and I am sure they will support our moves to protect the marine environment.”"
The WTO’s 142 member states, and some 30 countries waiting to join, are to gather in Qatar from Nov 9-13. “”We believe WTO has a strong role to play in reducing and reforming fish subsidies