5 Conclusion |
47. Marine science is crucial to a growing number
of Government initiatives, yet our understanding of the marine
environment remains patchy. Given current resource restrictions,
the UK must be clever about how we advance our understanding of
the marine environment and improve our capability in marine science.
The Government's approach to marine science and the marine environment
lacks focus and, despite publication of the Marine Science Strategy,
lacks strategic direction. The Marine Science Coordination Committee
lacks clear a clear plan or levers to achieve its objectives and
needs to start delivering results.
48. The complicated and protracted process to select
Marine Conservation Zones highlights the Government's lack of
focus. The Marine and Coastal Access Act passed with strong support
from the public and Parliament, yet it has taken three years to
reach a point where 31 zones are being consulted on for designation
at an unspecified time, with management measures yet to be decided.
The uncertainties caused by these delays and the lack of clarity
in this process create anxiety and risks undermining public support
for the project.
49. Changes to NERC funding streams could be inadvertently
undermining support for strategic marine research. NERC should
consider what impact restructuring its research funding towards
competitive modes has had on its support for marine science and
whether there are sufficient opportunities for marine scientists
to bid for funding in the competitive modes. It is important that
staff should be able to carry out strategic work without disadvantaging
their academic careers.
50. Maintaining observations of the marine environment
is essential to record changes to the environment, particularly
those arising from climate change or ocean acidification.
Such data collection, particularly from long-term monitoring programmes,
should be an essential component of the Government's strategy
for marine science. The Marine Management Organisation and the
Government need to go further in pressing industry to share more
of their data. Efforts by the UK-Integrated Marine Observing Network,
and the British Oceanographic Data Centre, in Liverpool
to improve long-term monitoring are promising, but long-term monitoring
should not be sidelined to individual projects. This monitoring
should be considered core infrastructure. Defra and NERC should
provide clear, long term commitment of their support of these
177 Ev w3 para 4, Ev 99 para 6.1 Back
Ev 97 para 1.3 Back