Ahead of next week's European Parliament vote, Plaid Cymru MEP Jill Evans has hosted a seminar on marine conservation, organised by Birdlife International, where the Welsh experience can inform the development of policies across the EU.
Last week, Plaid Cymru welcomed the Welsh Government’s new marine and fisheries strategy. While the party called for adequate resources to be put in place, it recognised the plan as a good starting point with the right principles and strategic direction.
The original government proposals for ten Marine Conservation Zones had been published with no consultation and without a socio-economic impact being carried out. The impact on the fishing industry would have been disastrous.
Jill Evans MEP, who represents the whole of Wales in the European Parliament, said:
“The adoption of the new Welsh marine strategy shows that when real consultation takes place and the people who will be affected are involved in the decision making, it is possible to transform disastrous proposals into an effective strategy that works for everyone. That is the aim of an ecosystem based approach: to conserve our seas and marine environment while also ensuring that the economy and marine linked industries can flourish.
“The marine environment is worth £2.5bn to the Welsh economy and supports more than 92,000 jobs. Wales's territorial waters cover an area almost twice the size of Wales itself. Delegates agreed with me that Wales had a beautiful coastline and I had an opportunity once more to promote the Wales Coastal Path - the first in the world.
"I am pleased that the Welsh Government was forced to go back to the drawing board on this. What we have now is a strategy that is in line with the EU ecosystem approach and one which we can develop to the benefit of the whole nation. When communities had a real say in how the sea and coast were managed, Wales was really able to lead the way."