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Act 'a boost for Welsh marine conservation'.

A LANDMARK piece of legislation that could make the marine life around Wales sustainable has come to fruition, environmentalists said yesterday.

Campaigners said the introduction of the UK Marine and Coastal Access Act into the statute books places a duty on Welsh ministers to conserve and protect marine species and habitats and could make a real difference for the future of Welsh seas.

Dr Lyndsey Dodds, marine policy officer at WWF Cymru, said: "The UK Act brings important new powers to Wales and places a clear and unambiguous duty on the Welsh Assembly Government to designate a network of protected areas to conserve and improve the marine environment.

"This is a pivotal moment for UK conservation efforts as a whole and shows what can be achieved through tireless campaigning.

"This long-awaited piece of legislation has the potential to really make a difference to thousands of species. Not just dolphins and sharks, but seahorses, turtles, commercially important fish stocks, and lesser-known species like pink sea fans and cup corals."

Annie Smith, sustainable development manager with RSPB Cymru, said: "The passing of this Act is a watershed for marine conservation.

"It is crucial the Welsh Assembly puts its new powers into effect quickly to help safeguard vulnerable marine species and to secure the vital contribution the marine environment makes to our economy and wellbeing."

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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Nov 12, 2009
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