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'UK Marine Protected Areas: Powerful legal protection or paper parks?’

Mason, P B (2019) 'UK Marine Protected Areas: Powerful legal protection or paper parks?’. PhD thesis, University of Essex.

Peter Mason PhD Law Thesis final submission.pdf
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This study addresses the question of whether or not UK marine protected areas (MPA) are designated and managed in accordance with the obligations accepted under international and domestic law. Since first mooted in the 1960’s, MPAs have become the most popular tool for the conservation of marine ecosystems and species around the world. Their development has been facilitated through the amending of multilateral environmental treaties introducing legal norms and objectives for marine sites. Additionally, the UK has implemented its own Marine and Coastal Access Act, introducing domestic marine conservation zones. The goals set for MPAs have widened, as has the level of protection afforded to different sites, leading to a situation where it has been said that ‘every MPA is unique’; making it difficult to fully evaluate their effectiveness. Much of the literature on MPAs evaluates their success or failure from a scientific perspective. It does not evaluate whether the success or failure in their designation and management is a reflection of their compliance with international law. This research returns to first principles and analyses the principal legal obligations in international law, EU law and UK domestic legislation to identify the measures developed for MPAs and applies them to a number of case studies. The case studies revealed significant failings in the UK’s approach to designating and managing MPAs in its waters indicating this approach is reasonable. In particular it cannot be said that the UK is not fully compliant with its obligations because of a fragmented regulatory framework for its MPAs preventing a coherent approach to MPA management. The research suggests changes to strengthen the provisions of Part 5 of the MCAA by incorporating the most relevant obligations into the Act and makes recommendations on how they should be deployed to improve the effectiveness of the law.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities > Law, School of
Depositing User: Peter Mason
Date Deposited: 12 Sep 2019 12:43
Last Modified: 01 Jan 2020 02:00

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