Preventing marine wildlife crime: an evaluation of legal protection and enforcement perspectives

Nurse, A. ORCID: 0000-0003-2486-4973, 2022. Preventing marine wildlife crime: an evaluation of legal protection and enforcement perspectives. Frontiers in Conservation Science, 3: 1102823. ISSN 2673-611X

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Introduction: Despite growing environmental awareness and the efforts of a variety of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) to influence the wildlife protection policy agenda, wildlife laws remain outside the remit of mainstream criminal justice. Adopting a green criminological perspective, this article considers wildlife crime in respect of threats to UK marine wildlife. It examines the UK’s legal and enforcement framework and the scope and nature of both marine wildlife crime and harms to marine wildlife. Its core question is to consider the extent to which the UK’s wildlife law approach provides for effective wildlife protection and is adequate to deal with the threats facing marine wildlife.

Methods: The research is a mixed methods study that considers the relevant law, case law and reporting of wildlife crimes as well as the enforcement approach to marine wildlife crime. The article’s methodological approach is socio-legal in nature commencing with a review of the relevant literature on threats to marine wildlife and incorporating analysis of the current law and case law available via the legal databases BAILII and Westlaw. The study also conducted an analysis of licences for disturbance of marine wildlife via an examination of the open access case management database managed by the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) the main enforcement body for marine wildlife incidents in the UK.

Results: The research identifies that while in principle the UK has robust legal protection for marine wildlife, in practice, policy allows exploitation and disturbance of marine wildlife that causes harm to individual animals and is detrimental to efforts to conserve marine wildlife and marine ecosystems.

Discussion: This research concludes that in the UK, potentially strong legislation existing on paper is arguably not backed by an effective enforcement regime. The remote nature of marine wildlife incidents, competition between marine wildlife and leisure and commercial activities and the very wording of legislation all create enforcement challenges. This article argues for marine wildlife crime to be integrated into mainstream crime policy linked to other forms of offending and criminal justice policy, rather than being largely seen as a purely environmental issue and a ‘fringe’ area of policing.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Frontiers in Conservation Science
Creators: Nurse, A.
Publisher: Frontiers Media SA
Date: 2022
Volume: 3
ISSN: 2673-611X
Rights: © 2023 Nurse. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Sciences
Record created by: Laura Ward
Date Added: 27 Apr 2023 14:46
Last Modified: 27 Apr 2023 14:46

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