UK passes Marine and Coastal Access Act

In November, the UK passed the Marine and Coastal Access Act, establishing a wide-ranging policy to enhance protection of the marine environment, improve fisheries management, and allow for easier coastal access. The Act also lays the framework for developing a national marine planning system that will set priorities and guide managers in the sustainable use and protection of marine resources.

Specifically, the Act prescribes the following measures, among others:

  • A process to develop a national marine policy statement, which will be used to support an integrated approach to management and a series of regional marine plans;
  • Establishment of a new Marine Management Organisation to regulate development and activity at sea, centralize information resources, and enforce marine environmental protection laws;
  • Planning and designation of a national network of MPAs (called Marine Conservation Zones under the Act) to protect important species and habitats;
  • Simplification of the marine licensing system;
  • Reform of inshore, migratory, and freshwater fisheries management; and
  • Creation of a single coastal path around England to allow people to enjoy the benefits of the coast.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown said, "This historic, ground-breaking legislation fulfills the Government's 2005 commitment to introduce a new framework for managing the demands we put on our seas, improve marine conservation, and open up access for the public to the English coast."

The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) will oversee marine planning, licensing, and conservation, and is intended to serve as a "one-stop-shop" for any developers whose projects have an impact on the sea. The goal is to provide a more streamlined, consistent process for considering license applications while also allowing managers to view each project and its potential impacts in more of a holistic, ecosystem-based manner than previously done. For more on the Marine and Coastal Access Act, go to

South Africa's coastal management law takes effect

A law to guide management of South Africa's coastline took effect on 1 December 2009. The Integrated Coastal Management Act, signed in February of this year by then-President Kgalema Motlanthe, covers conservation and sustainable development of the coastal zone.

In a statement to mark the law's taking effect, the national Department of Environmental Affairs said, "The 'evolution' of integrated coastal management has culminated in this tool that recognizes the ecological, social, and economic interactions within the ocean and land interface. The Act is based on a national vision for the coast, which includes the socially justified sharing of benefits derived from a resource-rich coastal area without compromising the ability of future generations to access those benefits." The law is available at

Presentations available from symposium on marine spatial planning

A symposium on 16 November 2009 sponsored by the US Office of National Marine Sanctuaries examined how science (natural and socioeconomic) has been applied to coastal and marine spatial planning. Presenters described cases from across the US. Fifteen presentations from the symposium are available online at