Earlier this year, the Welsh Government conducted a consultation setting out the science behind 10 potential highly protected site options. It sought to find out how proposed areas are used, how this might be affected by MCZ designation and how any effects on communities could be minimised.
Almost 7,000 responses, expressing a wide range of views, were received.
The Minister said:
“I am announcing a period of additional work to reflect on and fully explore all the information received, to inform how we move ahead with MCZs in Wales. This additional work is in line with our planned staged approach to listen to feedback at each stage, respond and then seek further views from all interested parties before deciding on next steps.”
A cross-cutting ‘task and finish team’ with members from government agencies and the Welsh Government is being established to advise and make recommendations. The group will report to the Environment Minister by the end of April 2013.
Key considerations for the group will include responses to the consultation, the MCZ projects in the other UK administrations, the wider network of marine protected areas and the Welsh Government’s commitment to sustainable development, communities and jobs as well as biodiversity.
Other interested parties will be invited to join a ‘stakeholder focus group’ to advise the task and finish team on practical solutions. Peter Davies, Wales’ Commissioner for Sustainable Futures will chair the new stakeholder group.
Once the team have reported to the Minister there will be further consultation, especially with local communities, looking at how the government proceeds with designating MCZs in Wales.