Our seas face 5 unprecedented challenges that we believe can be addressed through Regional Sea Planning.

1. Securing protected areas at sea

The current
approach is like
protecting single
trees rather than a
whole wood

The UK Marine Protected Area (MPA) network is not yet complete. We believe that the network should protect the full range of typical habitats and species found in healthy seas, rather than only rare or threatened ones. We believe that MPAs should be managed as a whole, bringing protection to all habitats and wildlife within their boundaries, rather than just certain sensitive features.

We are on the verge of a world-leading network of Marine Protected Areas. The scene is set, the evidence gathered and recommendations made. All that remains is to finish the job.

 

2. Making fishing sustainable

The long-term future of the UK’s fisheries depends on a healthy marine environment. Leaving the EU, whilst creating some uncertainty, will provide new opportunities for reforming our fishing industry. Switching to fully sustainable fishing would benefit jobs, consumers and wildlife, both now and in the future.

The current marine management system manages fishing separately to other activities. We believe they should be managed together, through Regional Sea Plans; this would allow planners to protect important fish habitats and identify 'go fish' areas. 

 

3. Ensuring development is sustainable

The sea provides us with energy, transport, sand for concrete and much more. Marine industries are an essential part of our economy and vital in ensuring we meet our climate change targets; but we believe that marine development must be done in a way that meets the needs of both the economy and the environment.

We need regulators that manage a strong consenting and licensing system, with Regional Sea Plans guiding what activity happens where and leaving space for wildlife. 

 

4. Eliminating pollution

Plastic-strewn beaches, microplastic-munching zooplankton, killer whales with toxic blubber; our seas are facing an unprecendented pollution crisis. As part of a new Marine Strategy, the UK Government needs to put in place provisions to tackle all major sources of marine pollution, including noise, eutrophication, and land and sea-borne marine debris. 

We believe that Regional Sea Plans lie at the heart of this and call on the UK Government to establish pollution reduction plans at Regional Seas level.

 

5. Inspiring and connecting people

Despite increasing public interest in marine wildlife and a growing spotlight on the issues of plastic pollution, public understanding of marine ecosystems remains low. This is despite the fact that over half our wildlife (more than 30,000 species) lives in the sea and over seven million people spend time in contact with the ocean every year in the UK.

Inspiring people about the sea is at the heart of what we do. We believe that the Government has the unique chance to create a marine strategy that creates opportunities to increase people’s enjoyment and appreciation of our coasts and seas. The UK Government cannot do it alone, but with organisations such as The Wildlife Trusts and other active participants we can make a difference.