Environmental Audit Committee's report's recommendations could impact recreational boaters, says RYA

The Royal Yachting Association (RYA) has hit back at a report linked to Marine Conservation Zones, which it says could impact recreational boaters.

Back in the Spring the RYA, the national governing body for all forms of boating, gave evidence to the Environmental Audit
Committee’s examination of a range of topics relating to Marine
Protected Areas (MPA) and Marine Conservation Zones (MCZ).

The Committee has now published its findings and the RYA is discouraged by its recommendations that Government should ‘follow a precautionary principle approach to designations based if need be on ‘the best available data’ and the impact this may have on recreational boating.

Government had originally committed in 2010 to make designations of MCZs
on the basis of ‘best available evidence’. However, Government advisory
bodies indicated that whilst recommendations could be made on that
basis, designations should require higher levels of evidence.

RYA planning and environmental manager Caroline Price said: ‘It is our view that a strong evidence base is essential to support
decisions that could have socio-economic impacts and effects on people’s

‘Simply relying on the “best available evidence”,
irrespective of its scientific rigour, is in our view unacceptable.’

‘As the sites being considered for designation in Tranche 2 (T2) are
notably more contentious than those put forward in Tranche 1 the need
for robust data becomes even more important. Not only is quality data
necessary from a scientific perspective, it is essential for stakeholder

‘Successful management of any future MCZs will rely on buy-in from the
local and wider community. If decisions are made on poor data this
process is likely to be hamstrung from the outset.’

Lack of information from Government

The RYA welcomes many of the recommendations made in the report. In
particular the absence of any comprehensive published explanation of
many aspects of the marine conservation zone (MCZ) process remains an
on-going issue for all stakeholders.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra’s) selective approach to
stakeholder engagement in relation to Tranche 2 (T2) merely exacerbates
stakeholders’ concerns in this regard.

Lack of clarity on management measures

The RYA have consistently articulated the need for management measures to
form an integral part of the designation process. Without clarity on
what designation will actually mean for boaters it is extremely
difficult to analyse the potential impact of any proposed MCZ.

The RYA remains supportive of the principle of marine protected areas
and will continue to vigorously to represent the interests of
recreational boaters as the MCZ process progresses.

Read more from the RYA on MCZs.

Images credited to: Marine Scotland Image Bank