Our Bay: a fresh approach to coastal management

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How can we realise the full potential of Swansea Bay? That is the question that researchers at Swansea University will be helping Natural Resources Wales (NRW) find the answer to.

‌Staff in the Swansea University spin-out company ‘Aquatic Environmental Research Ltd’ will be running a workshop this Thursday to encourage invited local stakeholders and interested parties in the management of Swansea Bay to partake and answer this question. 

‌‌A healthy Swansea Bay can provide us with natural benefits, for example clean water for people to enjoy, a beautiful leisure environment, diverse wildlife and food. We can optimise the natural benefits through better management of Swansea Bay. This can also improve the Bay’s resilience to future threats.

At the event Matthew Quinn of the Welsh Government, Jerry Griffiths of Natural Resources Wales, and Deborah Hill of the City and County of Swansea will all be speaking and providing an introduction to the management of the Bay.

Swansea Bay aerialThe reason for running this workshop is that the Welsh Government is introducing the Environment Bill, which is new legislation that takes an ecosystem approach to managing the environment and natural resources in Wales. Changes will be introduced through the Environment Bill to make sure we have the right legislative framework in place to manage our natural resources in a way that will deliver lasting benefits now and for future generations. NRW will have a duty to develop and implement an area-based approach for the sustainable management of natural resources. The output from this approach will be an Area Statement which clearly sets out the priorities and opportunities for management of our natural resources. The Environment Bill will work alongside other Welsh Government legislation including marine planning.

Developing area-based natural resource management is challenging and NRW is undertaking three trials across Wales to explore this fresh approach, the Tawe Catchment being one of them. The aim of this workshop is to clearly find the views of local stakeholders and interested and knowledgeable parties.

Dr Ruth Callaway, Research Officer, Swansea University Department of Biosciences said: “ We want to hear the views of local organisations and people, so  they can contribute to this trial and influence the Area Statement for the Tawe catchment. Together with NRW we believe that this is a great opportunity to engage and work with partners like local government, businesses, the voluntary sector and local communities.

“This workshop will benefit from existing knowledge available in recent years’ drafts of the Swansea Bay Management Plans. The workshop will build on that work. We want to strengthen a collaborative method of management with sustainability as a central principle. Together we can help make Swansea Bay a more prosperous and resilient area. 

“The outputs of the workshop will filter into various management scenarios which will be collated in a report. During the workshop it will be discussed whether changes in the management of Swansea Bay are desirable and if it would be useful to create a cross-sector Swansea Bay management group. NRW’s intention is to find an avenue for a fresh approach to natural resource management that is driven by the users of Swansea Bay.”