8000 voices for better protection of Welsh seas

Staff from the Wildlife Trusts in Wales were joined by King Neptune on 6 November, who emerged from Cardiff Bay to deliver a petition signed by more than 8,000 people in Wales asking the Welsh Government to do more to protect our marine environment. Lord Elis-Thomas (Chair of Environment and Sustainability Committee) and William Powell (Chair of Petitions Committee) accepted the petition on behalf of the Assembly

King Neptune and his shoal of fish

King Neptune and his shoal of fish

The petition, known as Petition Fish, and organised by Wildlife Trusts Wales, calls on the Welsh Government to: “Create a network of Marine Protected Areas in Welsh waters and improve the management of existing protected sites.

Staff from all the Wildlife Trusts in Wales including WTSWW Chief Executive Sarah Kessell and Conservation Manager Lizzie Wilberforce also gathered at a reception for Assembly Members in the Wales Millennium Centre that evening. The event gathered together all the signed Petition Fish in a shoal, making a strong visual impact to demonstrate the strength of support in Wales for the conservation of our seas.

The presentation of the petition came just as Welsh Government announced their next steps in the process to designate Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) in Wales following the consultation earlier in 2012.

On 05 November, Environment Minister John Griffiths announced “a period of additional work to reflect on and fully explore all the information received, to inform how we move ahead with MCZs in Wales.  This additional work is in line with our planned staged approach to listen to feedback at each stage, respond and then seek further views from all interested parties before deciding on next steps”. A cross-cutting task and finish team will report to the Environment Minister by the end of April 2013.

The Wildlife Trusts in Wales welcome Welsh Government’s intentions to explore fully the responses made to the MCZ consultation, also the proposed discussions both within Welsh Government and with stakeholders as part of the MCZ Project Wales.

However, we have concerns regarding slippages in the timetable of the project and in response to the announcement, have urged Welsh Government to ensure that this additional time is used effectively to enable clear communication and meaningful stakeholder engagement.