Tyneside home for new marine watchdog

The UK government's new marine watchdog will be based on Tyneside, environment minister Huw Irranca-Davies has announced.

The North East beat stiff competition on a short-list including Plymouth, the East Riding of Yorkshire, Merseyside, Carrick and Lowestoft/Great Yarmouth and London to be the home of the Marine Management Organisation (MMO).

In a written statement to MPs, Mr Irranca-Davies said Tyneside offered a "good balance of marine interests" which will complement the role of the MMO.

The MMO will be set up under the Marine and Coastal Access Bill currently going through Parliament.

It will regulate development and activity at sea and enforce environmental protection laws.

Irranca-Davies said: "Tyneside has a broad range and a good balance of marine interests including a working port, fisheries, a growing renewable energy sector, environmental and industrial sectors, and a strong and developing university sector in marine specialisms, all of which will complement very well the role of the MMO.

"Tyneside also provides strong transport links to key stakeholders in London, Brussels, Scotland and across the UK."

He added that the North East "has not benefited to the same extent as other regions in the UK from the relocation of public sector organisations and employment".

A skeleton MMO body will move to the North East in Autumn 2009 and run in parallel with the Marine and Fisheries Agency until the end of March 2010 at which point the MMO will be operational.

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