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Mr. Gareth R. Thomas: If my hon. Friend's amendment No. 67 is successful, river estuaries will be incorporated into the terms of the Bill. I echo his concerns about the need for clearer specification of who should be consulted. The relevant authorities are pretty good at consulting the fishing industry and fishing interests in general, but the British Canoe Union might be a suitable addition to my hon. Friend's list of consultees.

Mr. Dismore: I am grateful to my hon. Friend. I intend to deal with some of the recreational uses of our waters. I know that he is a great advocate of the canoeing fraternity. I used to do a little canoeing in my youth, until I did an eskimo roll once and came up on the other side without my glasses, which somewhat put me off the sport.

We must consider not only the commercial fisheries but recreational fishing, which is indirectly quite an important trade or business to the day-trip boats that go out of harbours such as Bridlington. I am surprised that the right hon. Member for East Yorkshire (Mr. Knight) is not present to speak up for his constituents in that regard.

My hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, West has drawn the attention of the House to recreational uses. Apart from canoeing, there is a great deal of sailing and yachting activity. Yacht clubs are important not just as recreational organisations but as businesses. The diving fraternity will be affected, as will pleasure boats. I know that the pleasure boats that go out towards Flamborough Head and up and down that part of the east coast are important businesses which could be affected by the introduction of a marine site in that area.

10.45 am

Mr. Randall: I assume that, knowing the area so well, the hon. Gentleman also recognises that it is a good feeding ground for all the sea birds that breed along that coast, particularly at Bempton cliffs.

Mr. Dismore: That is my next point. I have been a regular visitor to Bempton cliffs and I still am, when I

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occasionally go home to see my mother in Yorkshire. I entirely agree with the hon. Gentleman that the cliffs are a spectacular site. The boats stay well away from that area.

New recreational industries are growing—for example, whale watching.

Shona McIsaac: And seal watching.

Mr. Dismore: Indeed. I see from the report entitled "Whale Watching 2001", which was prepared by the International Fund for Animal Welfare, that that is a growth industry. In 1991, some 400 people in the UK were engaged in that activity, spending $43,000 directly and $330,000 indirectly, but in 1998 there were more than 121,000 whale watchers, who spent almost $1.9 million in direct expenditure and more than $8 million in indirect expenditure. So, it is an important industry.

Much of that activity, I expect, would take place in the sort of area that we are talking about protecting. Such industries also need to be protected. According to the same report, 28 per cent. of visitors to the Moray firth said that the presence of dolphins had been the sole reason for their visit. Through my amendment, I am trying to ensure that all those whose livelihood is likely to be affected—sometimes positively as well as negatively—are properly consulted.

New clause 7 introduces the concept of management, to which my amendment No. 46 refers. New clause 7(2)(b) provides that the notification statement must include details of how the site should be managed. Several of my amendments, in this group as well as later groups, refer to the importance of the management regime for the site. Without a good management regime, many problems could occur.

Amendment No. 46 goes beyond that and deals with how the management regime is to be financed. It is important to recognise that if we do the job properly, there will be costs. The question is where the money will come from. It is all well and good for us to talk about introducing marine sites of scientific interest and looking after them, but if the resources are not put in to achieve that, whether from charitable trusts, the Government, nature protection bodies or Europe, we will not accomplish a great deal.

I return to new clause 7 and the representation procedure, and my amendments Nos. 44 and 51. With regard to the people who should be consulted about a marine site, the new clause refers to the need for representations and consideration of those representations, but it makes no provision on how those representations should be made. For example, should they be produced in writing, or would a picket of angry fishermen suffice?

We need to be a little more specific about how representations should be made. For example, there is no power to make regulations that would specify in subordinate legislation how representations should be made, a timetable for their consideration and so on. That is a feature of similar legislation, but it is lacking from this Bill. When he replies to the debate, perhaps my right hon. Friend will tell us how he sees such representations being received.

In its briefing for this debate, English Nature states that it

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Consultation is an important theme that should run throughout the Bill, and although such considerations do not necessarily form part of that aspect of consultation, they need to be addressed in our approach to implementing the legislation.

Having discussed how representations should be made, we should next ask how they will be considered. New clause 7 refers to the "confirming authority"—in other words, the Minister—

The Opposition expressed criticism about the issue. Does "having regard" mean having due regard, having full regard, or simply looking at such representations and throwing them in the bin? I am sure that my right hon. Friend would not throw them in the bin, but the provision needs a bit more substance.

My right hon. Friend doubtless would not accept the procedure outlined in my amendment No. 44. Nevertheless, it goes to the heart of what we are trying to achieve: the consideration of representations "in public". If the process is to work, we must build consensus among all who are affected—be they those engaged in trade, such as fishermen, or nature conservation enthusiasts and bodies. The best way to achieve that is to consider openly and in public all the views that are expressed. I believe in open government, and such a procedure would make a very important contribution to it. The amendments are important, and I shall be interested to hear my right hon. Friend's comments on the way in which representations should be made and considered, and decisions confirmed.

I welcome new clause 7(3), which states that if the original notification is withdrawn or modified, notice given by the confirming authority

That chimes with my amendment No. 52. It would be appalling if, after hearing various representations, a blue pen was simply struck through various parts of the original notification decision, and no thought was given to explaining why the change was made. Without representations, certain decisions taken under this legislation could give rise to heated views on both sides.

Amendments Nos. 45, 55 and 56—relating to the need to take account of international best practice—constitute my main contribution to this group, and I was pleased to note that they were indeed selected. Although the concept of protecting our marine wildlife through this kind of legislation is relatively new, such protection has been offered throughout the rest of the world for some time. We can learn a lot from what has happened elsewhere, and perhaps I might illustrate the point with two or three brief examples.

The first two examples concern Greece, a country that I know well and have visited widely. The national marine park of the northern Sporades, on the island of Alonissos—which incorporates six smaller islands—was founded on 28 May 1992, so the Greeks have considerable experience of such matters. It is a very isolated area in which there is only limited human interference, so there was already a good natural environment for making the land and sea areas of the park an ideal habitat for many of the Aegean's threatened species of plants and animals. Severe restrictions are imposed on commercial activities

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such as fishing and tourism. They could have a serious impact on the people of the northern Sporades, who earn their living from those two industries. In fact, there is little else for them to do. The marine park deals not only with fish but with certain rare sea birds and, perhaps most importantly, the Mediterranean monk seal, which is under threat. It is an ancient animal that has been represented throughout history, including on ancient Greek coins. It is one of the largest seals in the world, but its rate of reproduction is very slow.

Until recently, the monk seal was hunted intensively for its fur and skin, and fishermen who worried about its stealing food from their nets also used to bump it off. It is important to note that, since the marine park's introduction, virtually no such incidents have occurred. The marine park has actively engaged the region's fishermen and the fishing co-operative of Alonissos in its protection efforts, which has contributed greatly to stopping the killing of those seals.

When one arrives in Alonissos, a little presentation—it is almost a museum—takes place on the dockside, explaining what the Government of Greece are trying to achieve in promoting the marine park. It engages tourists in the concept of the marine park, and perhaps encourages them to proselytise elsewhere. On visiting it, my eyes were certainly opened to the benefits of protecting marine wildlife in that way. An interesting documentary by a friend of mine, Mrs. Lydia Carras, recently won the Europa Nostra award for the best European nature documentary. It is called "The Song of the Monk Seal", and I am happy to lend my videotape copy to anyone who wants to watch it.

One downside of the Alonissos marine park is that protection is voluntary. Although the inhabitants of Alonissos and the neighbouring island of Skopelos were united in pressing the Government of Greece to establish the marine park, and although there is a biological station, a formal management system has yet to be put in place. That can be contrasted with the island of Zakynthos, which is famous throughout the world for its turtle beaches. Such a management regime has been established in Zakynthos for a couple of years. However, unlike in Alonissos—where people want, but have yet to get, the protection afforded by a management scheme—sections of the Zakynthos population are against such a scheme. A management scheme is perhaps more important in Zakynthos, given the hostility of local businesses to such measures.

The Zakynthos marine park also integrates protection of the territorial zones on land—the nesting grounds of the loggerhead turtles—with protection of nearby affected sea areas. It has achieved a great deal, despite being unable to bring the local community along with it. Greece therefore offers a couple of good examples of how international practice can inform the way in which we develop our own arrangements.

My final example is from Australia. A few years ago, I was fortunate enough to visit the great barrier reef, which is the largest world heritage area. Some 1,500 species of fish, more than 300 species of reef-building corals, 4,000 molluscs and 400 species of sponges have so far been identified there. Australia probably has more experience of such matters than anywhere else. In 1976, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority—a joint federal Government and Queensland state government body—assumed responsibility for the conservation and

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management of one of the world's largest and most unusual parks: the great barrier reef underwater park. On visiting the reef, I was impressed by the way in which the company that took us there by boat applied strict rules and regulations governing the conduct of visitors. For example, people who were snorkelling or diving were not allowed to stand on the coral, and the authorities made sure that they did not. That is an extremely important area, and it is part of Australia's national oceans policy.

We could learn a great deal from the way in which the Australians established their authority, which undertakes a variety of tasks, including management plans, research, monitoring and interpreting data, and providing educational services and management advice. The day-to-day management is carried out by the Queensland agencies, subject to the authority's mandate, and they issue permits and give advice and assistance, nationally and internationally. I am sure that they would be prepared to help us to make our own arrangements.

Will my right hon. Friend look beyond our own shores to international best practice to see how we can learn from what is good and bad overseas? Will he also take account of the need to ensure that those who will be most affected by the designation of a marine site will be properly consulted and involved in the process? Only by doing that can we achieve the success that the Bill very much deserves.

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