The RYA says it's good news for boating

The Welsh Government has backed down on its highly controversial plans to introduce 10 Highly Protected Marine Conservation Zones (HPMCZs) off the coast of Wales.

The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) described it as an “embarrassing
U-turn” for the Welsh government, and has called for better protection
of seas.

However the RYA has celebrated the decision as it was concerned that the proposals would severely limit the ability for people to go boating and said it directly contradicted the Welsh Government’s ‘Creating an Active Wales’ strategy.

Caroline Price, RYA planning and environmental manager, said: ‘This is good news for recreational boating.

‘The impact of the proposed zones on the club network in North West Wales in particular could have led to a reduction in opportunities to go boating and therefore a reduction in boating itself.

‘It is also good news that the Welsh Government is prepared to go back to the drawing board and start again by looking at its existing 125 Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) to see if any additional changes can be made before looking at potentially creating additional zones.’

The Natural Resources Minister Alun Davies has now commissioned an assessment of Wales’ current MPAs to identify if there are any gaps and what options might be appropriate to fill those gaps.

7,000 responses

The Welsh Government received 7,000 responses to its consultation containing ‘strongly held’ views.
In response it announced a further period of work following the consultation to inform how they move ahead. This was led by a Task and Finish Team, supported by a Stakeholder Focus Group, of which the RYA was a member.
The RYA together with the Welsh Yachting Association have been in talks with the Welsh Government on this issue for some time and additionally have seats on the Wales Coastal and Maritime Partnership (WCMP) which draws together industry and user representation on this matter
In November last year the RYA gave evidence to the cross-party Assembly’s Environment and Sustainability Committee stating that the proposed HPMCZs could be detrimental for recreational boating across Wales with subsequent impacts on the coastal economy.
Caroline added: ‘We look forward to continuing to work with the Welsh Government as it examines its existing network of MPAs.’

Picture credit to Natural Resources Wales (previously Countryside Council for Wales)