Restoring and maintaining the health of Scotland’s coastal areas should be a legal duty of the Scottish Government, according to a report from the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Affairs and Environment Committee.
The Stage 1 report on the Marine (Scotland) Bill follows five months of scrutiny into the proposed legislation which is designed to change the way competing demands on Scotland’s coastal waters are managed.
In its recommendations, the committee said that despite domestic and international laws on marine management, there were still serious concerns about the state of Scotland’s seas. It called for legally binding rules to be introduced to ensure the health of Scotland’s coastal areas were maintained and improved by the Scottish Government and its agencies.
The committee also called for the bill to set out a duty to establish a network of Marine Protected Areas to help ensure the protection of Scotland’s rich marine life.
Committee Convener Maureen Watt MSP said: “The Marine (Scotland) Bill will have major implications for the management of Scotland’s coastline and coastal waters. It is far-reaching in the areas it will affect – from managing Scotland’s inshore waters as a key environmental and economic resource to protecting Scotland’s seal population.
"It is crucial that the legislation is right for Scotland so that coastal waters are managed and maintained to avoid conflicts over use and, ultimately, to ensure that they remain for future generations to enjoy.”
Other committee recommendations included the strengthening of laws concerning the protection of seals. The report said licences to kill seals should only be issued according to strict quotas to individuals who displayed adequate firearm skills and only if no satisfactory alternative to shooting could be found.
The Marine (Scotland) Bill was introduced to the Scottish Parliament on 29 April.