An inherent tension exists between legal approaches to nature conservation and fisheries management in the European Union, as the former remains the remit of Member States while the latter is under the exclusive legislative jurisdiction of the European Community (EC). This tension is of particular importance when addressing the conservation of habitats or species that are under threat from fishing activities. This article examines recent developments in offshore marine conservation in the North-East Atlantic in light of the legislative developments and political frameworks that are currently evolving. By analysing the emergency closure of the Darwin Mounds area of cold-water corals and the UK pair-trawl ban, it becomes evident that the precautionary principle is a key factor in the tension between fisheries management and marine nature conservation, and is not always taken into account.Habitats directive Common fisheries policy Precautionary principle Darwin mounds Greenpeace judgment UK pair-trawl ban Wadden Sea judgment
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