Fulmars Fulmarus glacialis, in flight and the rising moon, Ramsey Island RSPB reserve, Wales

Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009

We campaigned for nearly a decade to get new legislation to better protect the marine environment and wildlife. Here are some of the highlights from the journey.

UK Marine and Coastal Access Act

The UK's marine wildlife above and below the waves surrounding England and Wales, and in offshore waters around the UK, should now be afforded the level of protection it so desperately needs.

However, far from this being the end of our journey, in fact the work to deliver protection on the ground is only just beginning! Our focus now turns to making sure the legislation is swiftly put into practice so our marine wildlife and seabirds are protected effectively.

Under the Act, the UK and Welsh Assembly Governments gained exciting new powers to protect marine wildlife and manage our seas effectively. These include:

  • The creation of Marine Conservation Zones to ensure important areas for our marine species and habitats are properly protected
  • A marine planning system which will allow governments to take a strategic and co-ordinated overview of the range of human activities and use of space and resources in our seas and ensure there is adequate space for marine wildlife and that we are not pushing the marine environment to or beyond its capacity
  • In England and Wales, it also allows for improved management of inshore fisheries which will consider the needs of our marine environment.

Our job now is to make sure these groundbreaking laws are put into action to safeguard our marine environment.

Putting the Act into action

In particular, we will be engaging with the ongoing process to identify and designate a network of Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs).

Over the coming months and years, we will also be closely involved with the development of the marine planning system for the UK. From ensuring the high level UK-wide Marine Policy Statement takes proper consideration of environmental and conservation issues at sea, to the regional and local delivery of marine plans around our coasts.

In England and Wales, we will be watching the development of new systems of inshore fisheries management very closely to ensure they take full account of the need to protect our marine environment.

Sea cliffs with nesting sea birds at dusk, Ramsey Island RSPB reserve, Wales

Protection for the whole of the UK

To complete the jigsaw of legislation across the whole of the UK's seas, we campaigned for legislation to cover Scottish and Northern Irish waters.

The Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 covers Scotland's inshore waters, and contains vital new powers for Ministers, including the designation of a network of Marine Protected Areas and a new marine planning system. 

The 2013 Northern Ireland Marine Act provides the power to create a network of MCZs around Northern Ireland and to develop a new marine planning system.

Marine Campaign - Archive of activities

View of sea defences with setting sun, Wallasea Island RSPB reserve, Essex, England

We campaigned for nearly a decade to get new legislation to better protect the marine environment and wildlife. Here are some of the highlights from that journey.