A chance for the UK to lead the world

Marine planning has been underway across the UK since 2010. Whilst we believe the plans created so far have made a good start in improving marine management, we feel that they have not gone far enough and do not adequately incorporate all the activities in the sea. Most notably, fisheries management is dealt with separately. We can do better.

The development of a new, outstanding marine planning system will put the UK at the forefront of global sustainable development at sea. For a proud maritime nation this is the right place to be.


What are Regional Sea Plans?

Regional Sea Plans allow inshore and offshore waters to be managed together. Their boundaries are defined by environmental character, rather than administrative boundaries. Unlike the current planning process, Regional Sea planning would consider all activities, including fishing.

The planning process would bring all sectors together through the production of a common vision for the future sustainable use of each regional sea area.

The new Regional Sea Plans should include:

  • Wildlife areas - a full network of ecologically coherent Marine Protected areas (MPAs) and wildlife corridors that allow safe passage of mobile species, including our ocean giants.
  • Resource areas - habitats of low environmental risk where development would have little ecological impact.
  • Sustainable fishing or 'go-fish' areas - where we set aside areas of the sea for more damaging fishing activities, such as scallop dredging.

Regional Sea Plans should be the beating heart of a new UK marine strategy. They would represent a world-leading approach to the management of marine and coastal activities. Based on a network of Marine Protected Areas they will enable the development of a thriving Blue economy – here for people now and in the future.


Why do we need them?

Map of Regional SeasMarine management is a devolved issue in the UK, meaning that Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are each responsible for creating their own marine plans. Whilst this works at an administrative level, it does not reflect the ecosystems and pressures facing our oceans. Threats and wildlife don't recognise national boundaries.

A prime example is the Irish Sea. This regional sea is currently under extensive pressure from unsustainable fishing, shipping, pipelines and renewable power projects. To further complicate its management, 5 UK administrations (England, Isle of Man, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales) manage it using 5 different management systems! A Regional Sea Plan would deliver sustainable use of its resources at an ecosystem level, ensuring that its benefits are available for future generations of all 5 administrations.