Strangford Lough, Northern IrelandBASC has responded to a consultation on how marine conservation zones (MCZ) will be created and managed in Northern Ireland over the next two years.  The consultation was issued by the Department of Environment and ended on 31st January 2014.

BASC response

Key points from BASC’s response:

  • It is encouraging that the guidance emphasises taking economic, cultural and social activities into account when identifying potential MCZs.
  • Wildfowling is an activity of longstanding cultural and social importance in Northern Ireland.
  • Wildfowling is not an activity which could easily be moved to another area, given the number of clubs involved, each with their own negotiated leases, permissions and access arrangements.
  • Impact assessments should acknowledge the level of wildfowling that occurs in each proposed MCZ.
  • Whilst BASC is supportive of the Marine Protected Area network, MCZ’s and marine conservation it will strongly oppose MCZ’s where restrictive and unnecessary regulation has the potential to negatively impact on wildfowling activities.
  • Effective and meaningful stakeholder engagement is key for local communities at each site and the Department of Environment (DoE) should make every effort to ensure that any planned MCZ workshops are well publicised.
  • BASC welcomes the fact that all MCZs will be subject to a 12 week consultation and that the evidence used to identify proposed MCZs will also be made available to allow for transparency of the process.
  • More clarity is needed on the establishment of a MCZ boundary. Extending boundaries after they have been agreed and established should be avoided.
  • MCZs should only be designated below mean low water mark. Sites requiring extra protection above mean low water mark should be designated as Areas of Special Scientific Interest.
  • More clarity is needed on what the baseline data will be for MCZ conservation objectives so that we can determine whether or not a species is at a favourable level or in recovery.
  • More information is needed on proposed timeframes in relation to monitoring.
  • BASC is concerned to read about the potential for activities to be prohibited and would ask the Department to provide a definition of what they consider to be a ‘vulnerable’ species.
  • BASC is broadly supportive of the proposals and welcomes the DoE’s intentions to engage with a wide range of stakeholders and recreational users.  We will continue to work with the department to ensure that the cultural, social and economic worth of wildfowling are fully taken into account in the selection of MCZs.
  • BASC’s main concern relates to the issues of displacement, boundary setting and the possibility of ‘no take’ or highly protected areas.
  • The decision making process must be fully transparent to all stakeholders.
  • BASC is opposed to further management restrictions on wildfowling, shooting or access to shooting and related conservation activities.

Find out more

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