British MP Jacob Rees Mogg wants to repeal all EU regulations but repealing all regulations there are plenty of real factors he might also need to consider. There is, for instance, Council Regulation (EC) No 734/2008 on the protection of vulnerable marine ecosystems in the high seas from the adverse impacts of bottom fishing gears. And yes, we have repatriated fishing, and walked away from the CFP, but this particular instrument relates to the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982, covering the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks. Specifically, it takes in Resolution 61/105 of the General Assembly of the United Nations, adopted on 8 December 2006, when the international community agreed on the pressing need to adopt measures “to protect vulnerable marine ecosystems from the destructive effects of bottom fishing activities through strict regulation of those activities by regional fisheries management organisations or arrangements or by States in respect of their flagged vessels operating in areas where no such organisations or arrangements are in place”.

As the UK is a signatory to UNCLOS and was party to the 2006 agreement, this regulation is an example of the “double coffin lid”. It could not be repealed by the UK government without breaching our international obligations. Of slightly higher profile is the Conservation of Habitats and Species (Amendment) Regulations 2012, which amends the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010, the combined effect of which is to make provision for transposing Council Directive 92/43/EEC on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora (“the Habitats Directive”) and certain aspects of Directive 2009/147/EC on the conservation of wild birds (“the Birds Directive”). These two EU instruments form the core of the nature conservation efforts in the UK and are much treasured by groups such as the RSPB and Natural England. If Rees-Mogg wants to take those organisations on, all I can say is “good luck with that”. But there is another element to this, although the Habitats and the Birds Directive are famously high-profile EU laws, they owe much of their origin to the Ramsar Convention of 1971, to which the UK was a signatory before we joined the EEC, the Council of Europe action plan on the environment, published on 22 November 1973, and the 1979 Berne Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats. The Brexit debate is a festering sore in British politics and made worse by people who disregard environmental standards for their ideological fantasies.

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