Ocean charities and organisations including Greenpeace, Marine Conservation Society, Surfers Against Sewage, Whale and Dolphin Conservation and WWF are calling for a sea change in ambition in Government marine policy to restore our marine environment by 2030. The calls come in a new ‘Ocean Recovery Manifesto’ launched today, World Oceans Day 2020 (8 June), by the Wildlife and Countryside Link coalition. The organisations are also launching a photo competition for the public to show how much our seas mean to them, and help raise the issue up the political agenda.
Our ocean is suffocating, with overuse, pollution and climate change all causing severe declines in marine habitats and wildlife. The group welcomed the Government’s action for our seas so far, with designation of Marine Protected Areas, its new seabird action plan, and its strong leadership in the Global Ocean Alliance, but highlighted the scale of change needed to achieve healthy seas around our own shores.
UK Governments have a legal target to achieve healthy seas by 2020, but in 2019 our waters failed to meet 11 out of 15 indicators of good sea health. Ocean campaigners in the Wildlife and Countryside Link coalition want the Government to take legal and practical action now, including fully protecting 30% of our waters, to get English seas healthy again. A first step should be the swift designation of Highly Protected Marine Areas around England, as recommended by a government-commissioned report published today.
Chris Tuckett, of the Marine Conservation Society and Chair of the Wildlife and Countryside Link Marine Group, said: ‘Our ocean is vital to the health of all of us. It is the lifeblood of the planet, producing more than half of the air we breathe, food and medicines, including the first experimental drug trialed for covid-19. But the ocean that we rely on is in trouble and without help it won’t be able to support future generations. This World Oceans Day we’re asking the Government to up its ambition for our seas ahead of COP26 and give the global leadership we need for our ocean starting on our own doorstep.’