I went to a 'Balanced Seas' meeting last night. According to their website, “Balanced Seas is one of four regional projects in England that will work with sea users and interest groups to identify and recommend Marine Conservation Zones to Government. These new protected areas will be designated at the end of 2012.” As I live near Felixstowe, it appears that my sea fishing is going to be affected by two such 'projects'. Well, two new ones. There are plenty of other 'conservation' schemes around that have the potential to impinge upon my recreation.
Anyway, this won't be a long piece. I don't have the time or inclination to bore readers to death with every single point. As and when I get a gap in my workload, I hope to write a short piece that focusses on just one aspect of these new Marine Conservation Zones (MCZ's).
We were told last night that we had to recommend MCZ's by a set date. There is no room for manoeuvre – if you don't get involved on the stakeholder group, somebody else will and they have to recommend MCZ's.
Somebody then asked a question along the lines of:
“What would happen if the stakeholder group got together, discussed the area and found that we didn't need MCZ's?”
The answer was quite scary; You would still have to recommend areas.
Now, depending on how you look at it, two analogies quickly sprang to mind;
- If you see MCZ's as a threat, then it is like the school bully coming up to you and asking you if you want a dead-leg or a Chinese burn. You know it's not pleasant, but you have to choose one.
- If you see MCZ's as a good thing, fair enough. But if you've established that you don't need them and have to nominate them, it's like being forced to take medicine every night for no reason. Medicine is good for you, when you need it. It serves no purpose any other time. Not only that, it's expensive and can lead to long term dependency....and wouldn't the bureaucrats love that?
My wife works in the NHS and this looks like the same kind of bull that she witnesses daily. People with no knowledge or interest in your hobby or business have decided that they have to be seen to be doing something for something's sake. Statistical targets have been set and the pen-pushers will ensure they're met. It's their job to do so. They are paid tax-payers money to ensure that they do whatever the Government asks them.
In the meantime, the people that this will affect most are out earning money to pay those wages. They don't get paid to 'get involved' and, in fact, most of them probably don't want to.
If I thought this had anything at all to do with conservation, I'd be interested in it. In my opinion, it doesn't. It's about managing people – it's as simple as that – and the fact that we HAVE to have MCZ's imposed on us, even if every stakeholder agreed they were unnecessary, is proof of that. It's big business and this gravy train is going to carry a lot of passengers, you can bet your house on that.
You WILL find that MCZ's affect you soon. If you have the time, I suggest you try to get along to one of these meetings just to see how they work and to form your own opinion.