Devon Maritime Forum – Summer Conference

Brexit:  What now for our marine environment and maritime economy?

So now we know.  Having had a few days to digest the result and speculate on its ramifications many will be disappointed and dismayed but more will be delighted and determined to press ahead with divorce proceedings as soon as possible.  Within the broader ‘maritime community’, and even within individual maritime sectors, as with the broader populace, there were powerful, passionate and well-made arguments on both sides. Whether the result is the one you hoped for or not there is no doubt that this is a very significant moment for the maritime sector, as we face the prospect of a new legislative landscape and relationship with our maritime neighbours.  While it remains to be seen quite what this timetable for change will be, or what challenges and opportunities may arise over the coming months and years, it is absolutely imperative that as both a sector and as a region that we start, now, from a position where we recognise and acknowledge our sometimes competing interest and areas of conflict but are always open and willing to look for, and head towards, common ground. If there is to be a ‘bonfire of the directives’ as some have suggested, it is critical, that in the inevitable vacuum that this creates we do not spiral into a no-holds-barred fistfight that pits sector against sector, economic against environmental interests, each forced to entrench positions and harden stances.   Rather, we must strongly restate our collective commitment to common goals, to consensus and to cross-sectoral cooperation and working.  While there may be an opportunity for some quick wins, in a free for all, it is the long-term sustainable management of our coasts and seas that will  has the most to lose. Starting the dialogue! The DMF’s Summer16 meeting in Plymouth, provided a  unique and timely opportunity for delegates to have their say, share their optimism and excitement, vent their frustration and concerns, talk it over with fellow stakeholders, ask questions of other sectors, recognise areas of conflict, identify common ground and make a commitment to a shared vision.

With the result in, it becomes imperative that as both a sector and a region we are strategically positioned to meet the challenges and capitalise on the opportunities that will present themselves over the next -months and years; and crucial that we have a clear vision of how we can grow the blue economy, protect our precious marine environment, and build greater community resilience in the face coastal and climate change. In the relatively calm waters of the immediate aftermath of the referendum result, therefore, we took take a moment to pause, take a collective breath and take stock of the progress (or lack of) that has been made to date in working towards both our individual sectoral goals and shared vision of ‘clean, healthy, safe, productive and biologically diverse oceans and seas’, both nationally and here in Devon.

Full Programme details available HERE


  • Prof. Ed Maltby (Devon Maritime Forum) ‘Chair’s Introduction
  • Session I – Sectors: Progress, Current Issues, Future Visions

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