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New marine watch scheme to aid government

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North Wales Police and Gwynedd Council launched the Marine Watch on the 22 January. The scheme aims to raise awareness of marine crime, assist those already affected and increase safety.

PCSO Caryl Thomas at Bangor Police Station, who is leading the roll-out, said “Essentially it’s about the theft of boats or equipment from them or boat yards so I’d like to see as many owners of marine craft join the scheme as possible. By joining ‘Marine Watch’ owners can register their vessel and be kept alert of any suspicious activity in the area.”

Marine Watch will be using a well proven scheme called OWL (Online Watch Link) to promote good practice and act as a source for shared intelligence.

PCSO Thomas added: “It’s not just owners though as I’d like to see anyone who lives close to boatyards, marinas or the shore join as they too can be a valuable source of information and intelligence.” The police hope that this strategy will increase the safety of marine craft owners by giving early indications of what is going on in their area and provide some ‘peace of mind’.

The scheme is free to join and will prove a greater success the more people sign up, so PCSO Thomas urges everyone to get involved.

The Welsh government have been accused of failing to deliver on marine and coastal responsibilities, and urgent action is required, a cross-party group of AM’s warn. The government requested responsibilities be transferred from the Assembly’s environment and sustainability committee four years ago, but the Assembly now worries that its statutory duties and policy commitments are at risk.

Lord Elis-Thomas, the Plaid Chairman of the committee, said: “The position is not irretrievable, but the Welsh Government must act swiftly if it is to deliver its challenging policy objectives and meet the European obligations it has taken responsibility for.”

A Welsh Government spokeswoman said: “We have received the Environment and Sustainability Committee’s report on marine policy in Wales. We will fully consider its findings and respond formally in due course.”

However, Wales Environment Link applaud the UK Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 that “finally provided the tools that the Welsh Government needs to improve marine management in Wales, by putting in place better systems for marine conservation and sustainable development of the Welsh marine environment.”

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