Thursday 20th October 2016
Iolo Williams has urged Welsh Assembly Members to act to protect Wales’s marine environment.
At an event at the Senedd, the wildlife television presenter met with Assembly Members to discuss current and future legislation to protect the marine environment in Wales. This includes potential new Marine Protected Areas for seabirds and harbour porpoises, how marine issues fit in with the new Environment (Wales) Act and the capacity of the Wales National Marine Plan to provide a framework for the sustainable development of Welsh seas.
Iolo Williams said:
‘The marine environment is vital for our marine wildlife, and urgent action is necessary to recover and restore it. It is also important for coastal communities as much of Wales has a rich coastal history and the sea provides a sense of identity for many people.’
The event was organised by Wales Environment Link’s Marine Working Group, a coalition of NGOs including Wildlife Trusts Wales, RSPB Cymru, Marine Conservation Society, WWF Cymru, and Whale and Dolphin Conservation.
Assembly Members were encouraged to sign Wales Environment Link’s Marine Pledge calling on the Welsh Government to deliver a healthy and sustainable marine environment.
The Welsh sea area accounts for over half of Wales’ total area but a lack of resources to properly monitor and manage this means that 79% of habitats of marine Natura sites are in an unfavourable condition (1). The task of monitoring and managing the marine environment is likely to become much larger with new duties in the current draft Wales Bill that would devolve more powers to Wales.
Llyr Gruffydd AM, former Plaid Cymru spokesperson for the environment and sponsor of the event, said:
“I am glad to work with Wales Environment Link and raise the profile of our marine environment. Wales is a nation with clear connection to the sea with over 60% of us living along our coast. It is important that we protect our seas now and for the future.”
Scott Fryer, from Wales Environment Link’s Marine Working Group, said:
“We are at a critical stage to protect Welsh seas for the benefit of everyone in Wales and need to ensure that the legislation is implemented effectively to manage our seas sustainably now and for the future.
“We are very grateful to Iolo and to the AMs who have signed up to the Marine Pledge for championing this cause and hope that many more Assembly Members will pledge to protect Welsh marine wildlife.”
James Marsden, the former Director of Marine at Natural England, gave the main speech indicating that politicians must decide whether to prioritise long-term sustainability versus short-term economic gain. He stressed the need for England, Wales and Ireland to work together to share knowledge and best practice on how best to manage our critically important marine environment and to deliver an ecologically coherent network. He offered on behalf of the Chair of the Devon & Severn IFCA support to Wales and explore opportunities for better coordination in addressing the interface challenges across the Severn Estuary SAC and more closely in partnership working.
The full list of AMs who have signed the pledge are: Llyr Gruffydd AM; Dai Lloyd AM; Simon Thomas AM; Nathan Gill AM; Vikki Howells AM; Huw Irranca-Davies AM; John Griffiths AM; Julie Morgan AM; and Joyce Watson AM.