HC Deb 10 June 2002 vol 386 cc938-9W
Llew Smith

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent steps her Department has taken to protect coral reefs. [57977]

Mr. Meacher

Under the Jakarta Mandate of the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Government is working internationally to protect coral reefs, notably to tackle coral bleaching and activities that can result in their physical degradation and destruction. The UK was a founding member of the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI).

Our Darwin Initiative plays an important part in our contribution to implementing the Convention on Biological Diversity in developing countries, including marine biodiversity and coral reefs. The UK has committed substantial funding to support the development of improved understanding and better management of tropical coral reef ecosystems, recognising the importance of the resource to the livelihoods of many vulnerable coastal communities in developing countries.

Furthermore, the cold water corals off the north west coast of Scotland, the Darwin Mounds, are expected to be the first habitat to be afforded Special Area of Conservation status once regulations to extend the Habitats Directive out to the limit of jurisdiction of UK waters are in place.