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Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009

Chapter 1: Establishment
Section 1: The Marine Management Organisation

36.This section establishes a body to be known as the Marine Management Organisation (MMO).

37.The MMO is to exercise those functions that are conferred on it by the Act and through other legislation.

38.There are a number of ways in which the Act provides for the MMO to take on functions.

39.Firstly, a number of existing functions are directly transferred to the MMO under Chapter 2 of this Part. Sections 4 to 11 transfer existing sea fisheries and nature conservation functions currently performed by the Secretary of State (some of them through the Marine and Fisheries Agency) or by Natural England directly to the MMO. Sections 12 and 13 also transfer functions to the MMO relating to electricity generating and renewable energy installations.

40.Secondly, the Act confers new functions on the MMO. Under Part 5 (marine conservation zones) the MMO is given the power, following consultation, to make byelaws to further the conservation objectives of any designated marine conservation zone in England (section 129). Such byelaws may, amongst other things, prohibit anything that will interfere with the sea bed. Under section 131, the MMO is given power to make emergency byelaws if it thinks there is an urgent need to protect a marine conservation zone in England. The MMO may also make interim byelaws (section 132) in relation to potential new marine conservation zones.

41.Under Part 6 of the Act, which relates to inshore fisheries and conservation authorities (IFCAs), the MMO is to be consulted in relation to the making of orders establishing inshore fisheries and conservation districts in England (section 149). Each such district is to have an inshore fisheries and conservation authority, the membership of which is to include some people appointed by the MMO (section 151).

42.Under Part 7 of the Act, an amendment to the Sea Fisheries (Shellfish) Act 1967 gives the MMO the powers to grant an exemption from the ban under section 17 of that Act on taking or selling crabs and lobsters, if they are taken for scientific purposes (section 212).

43.Thirdly, other Parts of the Act enable Ministers to delegate their marine functions under the Act to the MMO. Part 3 (marine planning) provides powers for “marine plan authorities” (listed in section 50) to delegate certain marine plan functions to public bodies by means of a direction (section 55). Part 4 (marine licensing) enables the Secretary of State to make an order which delegates certain of his marine licensing functions to any person specified in the order (section 98), which may include the MMO.

44.Fourthly, other functions will be conferred on the MMO through agreements with the Secretary of State. Chapter 3 of Part 1 makes provision for the Secretary of State to enter into agreements with the MMO for the MMO to perform any of the Secretary of State’s marine functions.

45.In addition, where functions that the MMO is to undertake are currently set out in secondary legislation, the Government will seek to amend that legislation to confer those functions on the MMO. Examples of secondary legislation that would be amended are the Conservation (Natural Habitats &c) Regulations 1994, the Offshore Marine Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c) Regulations 2007 and the Grants for Fishing and Aquaculture Industries Regulations 2007.

Section 2: General objective

46.The MMO is to act as the UK Government’s strategic delivery body in the marine area. As such it will exercise a number of marine functions. This section sets out the MMO’s general objective in relation to those functions. It must ensure that activity in its marine area is managed, regulated and controlled with the objective of making a contribution to the achievement of sustainable development. To facilitate the performance of its overall objective of contributing to the achievement of sustainable development under subsection (1)(a) the MMO may further any of the three core elements of sustainable development. This may be necessary to ensure that an appropriate balance between environmental, social and economic considerations is reached (subsection (2)).

47.In carrying out its functions the MMO must take account of all relevant facts and matters (subsection (1)(b)). The test is an objective one: the MMO must take into account any fact or matter that is in fact relevant. Subsection (3) gives examples of the sorts of evidence that the MMO will need to take into account in fulfilment of this duty. A broad definition of evidence applies to the section (see subsection (12)) to ensure that reliance may be placed upon the fullest possible range of evidence that the MMO is likely to need to refer to in carrying out its functions, including scientific and economic data and predictive studies. Subsection (3)(c) enables the MMO additionally to take into account other things which it may consider appropriate (but this does not mean that it may leave out of account anything which is in fact relevant and which it is required to take into account under subsection (1)(b)).

48.The MMO must also consider the effect that decisions on one area will have on any other area so that overall it acts in a consistent and coordinated way (subsection (1)(c)). This means that any decision of the MMO should be viewed in the context of the entirety of its functions to ensure that it comes to a balanced view.

49.The Secretary of State will issue the MMO with guidance as to how it is to seek to secure that a contribution to the achievement of sustainable development is made. This guidance will be subject to Parliamentary scrutiny before it is given to the MMO. It will be published by the Secretary of State and a copy of it will be provided by the MMO to any person who requests it.

Section 3: Performance

50.The Secretary of State will set objectives and performance indicators for the MMO which it must endeavour to meet.

51.In addition, the MMO will be placed under a duty to have regard to the five principles of good regulation set out in section 21 of the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act 2006 (LRRA). The MMO’s functions will be listed by Order under Part 2 of that Act. Section 24(6) of the LRRA requires that the body whose functions are to be listed be consulted. Section 3(2) disapplies those consultation requirements. This is because the MMO must be made subject to the principles of good regulation on or before the date that it starts to deliver regulatory functions and there is a possibility that there will be insufficient time for such consultation between appointing the board members and the date on which the MMO is due to deliver those regulatory functions.

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