Many thanks to Amanda in the Defra Press Office for the following answers to my questions:
Does the Dogger Bank have any extra protection already?
On 26th August Dogger Bank was put forward to the European Commission to be selected as a candidate Special Area of Conservation. Under Article 6(2) of the Habitats Directive there is a commitment to ensure that the site features are not subject to deterioration. Appropriate management measures will be put in place (see fisheries measures below) to protect the site from potentially damaging activities.
What restrictions have been placed on fishing in the area to meet the JNCC’s advice?
Fisheries management measures are under consideration for Dogger Bank as a whole. As Dogger Bank is an offshore site any measure will need to be implemented through the Common Fisheries Policy. We are working with Germany, Netherlands and Denmark to develop proposals which are planned to be put forward to the Commission next year.
And if there is not yet any extra protection what is the process of giving that extra protection, how long will it take and who will Defra consult?
Once fisheries management measures have been developed as described above individual governments will consider the proposals and will consult as appropriate. The proposals will then be put forward to the European Commission and the measures will be decided under the procedures of the Common Fisheries Policy.
So there is everything to play for all you NGOs out there!
And remember that the original Defra press release said that the Dogger Bank ‘an area almost double the size of Devon, has become Britain’s latest marine protected area to safeguard important sea life and habitats‘ although those habitats are not remotely protected yet.
But Defra were right when they said ‘Candidate SAC status means that the site must be protected from damaging activities to ensure its features are conserved.‘.
We’ll keep an eye on this and offer helpful suggestions to Defra as time goes on.