UK charities situation a brand new scorecard report which exhibits the Authorities has made no exhibit progress in 11 out of 17 vital steps for motion on ocean restoration.
The Authorities declared 2021 can be a Marine Tremendous Yr, highlighting ‘unprecedented alignment of worldwide and home marine agendas’ on the Coastal Futures Convention 2021.
One 12 months on, forward of the 2022 main annual convention on marine conservation, UK charities together with the Marine Conservation Society, RSPB, and The Wildlife Trusts, have issued a brand new scorecard report which exhibits the Authorities has made no demonstrable progress in 11 out of 17 vital steps for motion on ocean restoration.
This follows large criticism in 2020 when the Authorities missed its purpose (set underneath EU regulation) of attaining Good Environmental Standing for the UK’s seas. The Authorities failed to satisfy 11 out of 15 targets for wholesome seas, which the charities say is a mark of a deep ecological disaster at sea. For instance, the goal for Good Standing for waterbirds was missed, with sharp declines for some marine chicken species just like the Kittiwake in each the Celtic Seas and the Larger North Sea. There has additionally been public outcry over the impacts of sewage discharges into the ocean, with sewage spilling into coastal bathing waters 5,517 occasions within the final 12 months.
Humpback Whale, copyright Paul Jones, from the surfbirds galleries
Sean Clement of WWF-UK, Chair of the Wildlife and Countryside Hyperlink Marine Group, which coordinated the report, stated: “Whereas there have been highlights in 2021 such because the dedication to sort out backside trawling and ship new Extremely Protected Marine Areas, general we’re disillusioned on this stalled tremendous 12 months. The urgency of the local weather and nature emergencies means insurance policies to guard fragile marine ecosystems and seize carbon can’t be kicked into the lengthy seagrass, 2022 have to be the second that phrases flip into motion”.
The report analysed progress for 5 key areas for motion—setting ocean restoration targets; coverage to guard and improve marine wildlife; offshore planning for renewables and nature; decreasing bycatch of marine wildlife by fishing boats; and locking away “blue carbon” to cut back local weather change. It discovered that in each space Authorities motion had been inadequate to assist halt the decline of nature.
The report highlights that there was an rising public and political consciousness of the important function that wholesome seas play in constructing wholesome communities and in preventing the challenges of local weather change and biodiversity loss. Nevertheless, it stated that these alternatives may very well be missed, with coverage on sustainable fishing significantly missing ambition.
The Authorities has not dedicated to make sure that fishing catch limits are set inside scientifically beneficial sustainable ranges. It has additionally taken no motion to roll-out Distant Digital Monitoring (REM) to make sure that boats follow guidelines like quota allocations and sustainability necessities. That is essential to cut back the 1000’s of avoidable fishing-related deaths of dolphins, whales, porpoises, sea-birds and different marine-life. A promise in February from the Secretary of State that backside trawling can be prohibited within the Dogger Financial institution particular conservation space, alongside three different English MPAs, has additionally but to be put into motion.
Dr Richard Benwell, Chief Government of Wildlife and Countryside Hyperlink, stated: “Authorities is sort of a tremendous tanker. It’s slowly altering course, however it’s nonetheless carrying a payload of environmental destruction alongside the way in which. Our marine surroundings can’t afford to attend.
“Ministers have made some wonderful commitments for ocean restoration, however motion has been gradual to observe. We hope that 2021 was a ‘behind the scenes tremendous 12 months’ and that actual change to halt damaging backside trawling, sort out bycatch of dolphins and seals, and real safety for marine habitats will quickly floor in 2022.”
One space the place there was constructive progress is the Authorities’s flagship Extremely Protected Marine Areas (HPMA) programme, which have the potential to limit fishing and different damaging actions from chosen marine websites in English waters, with new HPMA’s to be piloted.  Particularly, the report highlights the function that HPMAs can play in defending biodiversity and decreasing local weather change by defending “blue carbon” habitats, such because the seabed and seagrasses, which seize and lock away greenhouse gases. The Authorities elevated the function of the ocean within the local weather negotiations final 12 months at COP26 and the Atmosphere Company has mapped the areas of our coast and seabed that may finest help our net-zero objectives.
Joan Edwards OBE, Director Coverage and Public Affairs at The Wildlife Trusts stated: “Whereas 2021 has laid the groundwork, we hope to see the supply of important HPMAs in 2022, with a listing of pilot websites this Spring and for these protections to be in place by the 12 months’s finish. Motion to guard our treasured marine life stays within the Authorities’s attain and the ambitions for a Marine Tremendous Yr can nonetheless be achieved given enough political will.
“We name on the Authorities to enact the insurance policies we’ve got highlighted as excellent from 2021 as the idea of a complete marine restoration agenda for 2022.”
Ocean and conservation consultants are calling for 3 key actions from Authorities to make 2022 a brand new super-year for ocean motion.
- Measures to make sure our Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are genuinely protected, together with:
- The efficient prohibition of all dangerous actions resembling bottom-trawling in MPAs
- Efficient identification and safeguarding of precedence Blue Carbon sources
- Implementation of strong monitoring and enforcement throughout the UK fishing fleet, and significantly using Distant Digital Monitoring (REM) cameras and related mitigation measures, arevital to dramatically scale back the unacceptably excessive variety of fishing-related deaths for dolphins, porpoises, sharks, seabirds and different marine-life. It could be welcome if REM was incentivised within the Authorities’s new £65m fishing infrastructure scheme.
- The refocusing of the UK Marine technique to supply a transparent route-map to attaining 2030 targets, to guard 30% of UK waters for nature and to halt nature’s decline in UK seas