Today, 12 November 2009, is the day the Marine and Coastal Access Bill receives Royal Assent and becomes law. The UK's marine wildlife above and below the waves surrounding England and Wales, and in offshore waters around the whole UK, should now be afforded the level of protection that it so desperately needs.
Under this new law, the UK Government gains exciting new powers to protect marine wildlife and manage our seas effectively. These include:
* The creation of new Marine Conservation Zones, to ensure important areas for our marine species and habitats are properly protected
* A new marine planning system that will allow Government to take a strategic and co-ordinated overview of the range of human activities in our seas, and ensure that we are not pushing the marine environment to or past its limits
* In England and Wales it also allows for improved management of inshore fisheries that will consider the needs of our sealife, and marine conservation