Sir George Young MP is supporting The Wildlife Trusts' call for a Marine Bill in next month's Queen's Speech. He attended their Petition Fish reception in the House of Commons where The Wildlife Trusts - along with representatives from individual Wildlife Trusts - showcased their fish with signed scales. They have gathered more than 150,000 signatures on scales from around the UK over the summer.
Sir George said: 'I was encouraged to see the strength of public support for a Marine Bill which The Wildlife Trusts have gathered with their Petition Fish. Their report on Marine Reserves highlights the importance of this campaign. We have extraordinarily rich seas around the UK. They are home to more than 44,000 plants and animal species, from intricate corals and seahorses to seals and dolphins.
'Our seas also play a critical role in regulating our climate. When healthy, they soak up vast amounts of carbon dioxide and release oxygen for us to breath. But this is all threatened by over-exploitation through activities such as overfishing, sand and gravel extraction, waste dumping and so on. We need to look after our seas far better. This is why we need a Marine Bill with effective powers for Marine Reserves - in next month's Queen's Speech. "
Sir George met up with Sue Walton of the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Trust, of which Sir George is a member. "Sue told me how important the Bill was for Hampshire."
Michael Alien, chairman of The Wildlife Trusts, said: 'We have been delighted with the 150,000 signatures that Wildlife Trusts from around the UK have gathered for our Petition Fish. It shows there is public support for protecting our marine environment.
'We have a unique patchwork of marine habitats around our coast with meadows of seagrass, forests of kelp, gardens of colourful sponges and corals, and moonscapes of sand and mud riddled with the burrows of millions of shellfish and worms. Not only does this report demonstrate the urgent need for a Marine Bill which includes effective legal measures to designate Marine Reserves but it also sets out how Marine Reserves might operate.
'We appreciate the cross party support we have received for a Bill and urge the Government to include the Bill in next month's Queen's Speech.'