On Friday, Luke Pollard MP hosted a workshop with marine campaigners and experts to hammer out a proposal to design the UK’s first National Marine Park in Plymouth Sound. In November, a proposal will be published that will outline what exactly campaigners want the National Marine Park to look like, how big it could be and a time scale for creating the UK’s first National Marine Park.
The idea of National Marine Parks has been building momentum in recent months. The Labour Party included the proposal to consult on the creation of National Marine Parks in a policy proposal in March. The Environment Secretary, Michael Gove also said on a recent trip to Devon last month that he supported the idea.
How to jump from a vision to a reality was the overarching aim of the workshop. Plymouth’s world-class marine scientists met with the city’s marine engineers, policy experts and business leaders as well as enthusiastic campaigners across the city to discuss key issues around what would go into the proposal and a timeline to make it happen.
Held at the National Marine Aquarium, initial presentations were delivered by Deputy Queen’s Harbour Master, Neil Trathen, and the Centre for Marine Conservation and Policy Research (MarcoPol) asking questions around the scale, design, brand, management, conservation and public access of the National Marine Park. Groups were then separated out around conservation, governance, research and education, recreation and commercial interests.
Over 40 attendees at the workshop include the Cabinet Member for Environment and Street Scene, Councillor Sue Dann, Professor Martin Attrill, Associate Head of School & Professor of Marine Ecology at the University of Plymouth, Professor Willie Wilson, the Director of the Marine Biological Association and Sarah Gibson, Waterfront Manager and Chief Executive of the Plymouth Waterfront Partnership as well as others.
Discussions included issues such as the park’s boundaries, as well how to balance between serving the local community and bringing in tourists from around the UK.
Luke Pollard MP said:
“Today was about coming together to get our ideas for the UK’s first National Marine Park onto paper and into plain English for the public to understand. I’ve been encouraged by how receptive both my party and the Conservative Government have been to the idea of National Marine Parks. We need to make the case that there is no better place for the UK’s first than right here in Plymouth Sound and I’m very proud to be leading this campaign on behalf of the city.”
Professor Martin Attrill, Associate Head of School & Professor of Marine Ecology at the University of Plymouth, who initially mooted the idea as early as 2012 said:
“To create a National Marine Park we need to be ambitious. We need to engage people, help them love and cherish what we have and want it persevered. We need to help the public to access the health and economic benefits of having a world class marine environment. We want not only to attract tourists but to make sure it benefits everyone in our local community.”
Cllr Sue Dann, Cabinet Member for Environment and Street Scene for Plymouth City Council said:
“Plymouth is the ideal base for the UK’s first National Marine Park and a chance to properly recognise our marine heritage. Designing a National Marine Park is a great opportunity to engage communities along our city’s waterfront. A National Marine Park would allow us to join all our waterfront environments together starting from JennyCliff to Mount Battern across the Sound to Mount Wise and over to Ernesettle and beyond opening up access for people to engage with the marine environment that they live in.”
Sarah Gibson, Waterfront Manager and Chief Executive of the Plymouth Waterfront Partnership said:
“We’re delighted that Plymouth Sound is being considered to become the UK’s first National Marine Park. The Sound and its estuaries are the lifeblood of Plymouth Britain’s Ocean City, providing a picturesque and highly protected marine habitat, offering extensive leisure and recreational opportunities, a successful fishing industry, a thriving commercial port and an important Naval Base.
“From early discussions we’re learning that the creation of a National Marine Park would potentially bring many benefits to the area including a substantial boost to the visitor economy. With an extensive marine expertise in science, education and technology available, coupled with international attractions and a globally important 500year maritime heritage, Plymouth’s waterways are uniquely positioned to become a National Marine Park. We’re looking forward to working with partner organisations to explore this further over the coming months.”