The former fisheries minister and MP who headed the government’s review into Highly Protected Marine Areas is to join Blue Marine Foundation (BLUE) as trustee.
Mr Benyon, who served as minister for the Natural Environment and Fisheries for over three years and was then the go-to MP expert on fisheries and the environment, will be adding his expertise to the board in BLUE’s tenth anniversary year and just after the end of his term working on the Highly Protected Marine Areas review for the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, published on World Oceans Day.
Mr Benyon, who served as an MP for nearly 15 years, said: “I am looking forward to working with the other trustees and staff of BLUE who have proved themselves in both UK waters and internationally as capable of getting great things done in marine conservation.”
After serving as an opposition whip, Mr Benyon was made shadow Minister for the Natural Environment and Fisheries, a role he took as Minister when the Coalition Government was formed in 2010. As such, he led the renegotiation of the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy in 2012-13, making sustainable fisheries – BLUE’s core tenet – a legal requirement.
In Parliament, Mr Benyon chaired the All Party Environment Group and took a great interest in environmental legislation. He was one of the main movers behind the Government’s Blue Belt agenda in which BLUE, as part of the Great British Oceans coalition, played a key role. The #BacktheBlueBelt campaign, undertaken by the Great British Oceans coalition and supported by 285 MPs across eight parties, succeeded in securing government commitment to protecting over four million square kilometres of ocean around the UK Overseas Territories in 2016.
Arlo Brady, Chairman of BLUE, said: “We at BLUE have been keen supporters of Richard Benyon’s work in Parliament, as a minister and afterwards, and most recently in his drive to create highly protected marine areas. His experience and his dedication to tackling unsustainable fishing makes him the perfect fit for BLUE and we are proud to welcome him onto the board.”
Mr Benyon also implemented the Marine and Coastal Access Act including the designations of new Marine Conservation Zones. He represented the UK in international fora such as the International Whaling Commission and the UN Convention on Biological Diversity. He is also a member of the Privy Council. Since leaving Parliament, Mr Benyon has been active in business as well as working for various NGOs and charities.