Marine mammals in UK waters are protected through a series of nature conservation laws, with the main legal protections stemming from the EU Habitats Directive which is implemented in the marine waters of the UK by the ‘Habitats Regulations’. Prior to leaving the EU, the UK transposed all relevant EU derived legislation, including the Habitats Regulations so that on 1 January 2021 a new body of ‘retained EU law’ was created. This is the position as it currently stands, and accordingly, all marine mammals continue to receive the same level of protection as they did when the UK was an EU member state. Over the next years as the UK continues the process of separating itself from the EU, it is anticipated that a new suite of habitats and species legislation will be created.
This talk will provide a unique legal insight into what this means for marine mammals in the UK, giving a summary of the current legal framework for marine mammals; consideration of what recent consultations such as marine net gain and nature recovery, and proposed new legislation such as the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill with its provision to sunset retained EU law by 31 December 2023 could have on marine mammals; look at the role of scientific research in the creation and implementation of a new legal framework for marine mammals in the UK; and open up a discussion about how legal protection for marine mammals in the UK might look in the future.
Helen Mitcheson is a solicitor, qualified in England and Wales. She currently works in the Environmental Law Team at Freeths LLP and is the Deputy Director of Cet Law, an international not-for-profit organisation which specialises in furthering law and policy to protect marine mammals. Helen was a graduate of first year of the marine mammal masters course in St Andrews in 2007 – 08.