A member of Eastbourne Green Party has responded to the town’s MP’s call for Beachy Head East to be a designated Marine Conservation Zone.
Andrew Durling, who has previously run for the town’s parliamentary seat, has spoken to Eastbourne Buzz to say he believes the move is long overdue, “The call by Caroline Ansell for the Beachy Head East Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ) to be officially designated by the government is most welcome, but in truth this zone, like all of the 127 MCZs proposed back in 2011, should have received official designation from the government well before now. The world has lost more than half of its wildlife over the last 40 years, and the need to protect the wildlife of our offshore waters, especially from overfishing and damaging fishing techniques, has never been more urgent. Yet we have had years of bureaucratic foot-dragging and obfuscation from the government, even though conservation groups generally have been crying out for all 127 MCZs to be designated as quickly as possible. The Environmental Audit Select Committee severely criticised the government for this in 2014, saying: ‘The Government must stop trying to water down its pledge to protect our seas and move much more quickly to establish further protection zones and ensure they can be enforced.’
“The MCZs were proposed on the basis of the best scientific evidence available at the time and the urgency of establishing them justifies using of the 'precautionary principle' in order to get the MCZs rubber-stamped into law quickly so that rare and threatened UK marine life can receive enough protection now before it's too late. Furthermore, the future of Eastbourne's inshore fishing fleet (which generally uses sustainable fishing techniques) depends crucially upon local marine life being adequately protected from fishing fleets elsewhere coming into our local waters in large fishing vessels and/or using fishing techniques that are not sustainable and which can even cause severe damage to the sea bed (such as scallop dredging).
“Official designation of all 127 proposed MCZs would amount to only protecting 0.5% of UK waters, which would only be one sixtieth of the area recommended by the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution - way back in 2004 - to be designated as 'no-take zones'. For this Tory government to be so slow to do the very minimum necessary to secure an ecologically sustainable network of marine sanctuaries in our waters is simply unacceptable and shows once again how little nature is regarded by the main political parties. The Green Party puts nature at the heart of all its policies, for the simple reason that everything, even our economic prosperity, depends upon a flourishing nature. That's why the Green Party supports the call for a new Nature & Wellbeing Act that would introduce new laws in England to restore nature and increase everyone's access to it - not only for nature's sake but also for the contribution it makes to people’s health and wellbeing. We call upon all the other candidates in this year's General Election in Eastbourne to also support the drive for such an Act.”