Reading West MP, Martin Salter, has been appointed to the Draft Marine Bill (Joint Committee) by Parliament. The Committee of MPs and Lords will scrutinise every aspect of the Draft Marine Bill and examine comments from stakeholders and other interested parties.

The Draft Marine Bill was published on April 3rd 2008, and will create a new network of marine conservation zones, for species and habitats of national importance. Improved coastal access for ramblers is also proposed alongside a new marine planning system, simpler licensing of marine developments (e.g. offshore wind farms) and improved management of marine and inland fisheries.

Mr Salter is the Labour Party Vice Chair for the Environment, and is the Party’s Parliamentary Spokesman for Angling. He has long been campaigning for the introduction of a Marine Bill with the Wildlife and Countryside Link, a coalition of the UK’s major voluntary organisations concerned with the conservation and protection of wildlife, the countryside and the marine environment, which represents 8 million people in the U.K.

Last July Mr Salter tabled House of Commons Early Day Motion 1833 Marine Bill (No.2) which argues for a new approach for the management and protection of the U.K.’s marine resources, wildlife and cultural heritage. Over one hundred MPs added their names to the motion, showing strong Parliamentary support for new legislation.

Mr Salter said:

“The Marine Bill is a once in a generation opportunity for comprehensive legislation protect our fisheries and the marine environment and it is vital that we get it right. I will use my position on the Committee to help to ensure that the final Marine Bill will help us to produce successful and sustainable measures to protect the seas for future generations.”

He added:

“I am particularly keen on the proposals to develop Marine Conservation Zones to allow endangered fish species some sanctuary from the ravages of the commercial fishing fleet. The Marine Bill will also deliver new powers for the Environment Agency to tackle fish thefts from inland fisheries. There is considerable evidence of Eastern European migrants and others taking fish for the pot, or for commercial gain, in contravention of our current, confusing of array of fishery bylaws. A new, simplified catch and release rule, backed up by effective enforcement, is precisely what anglers have been calling for and my job is to make sure that this is delivered in the Marine Bill.”