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World Oceans Day plea to Government and the public – more protection for struggling seas

Bottlenose dolphins leaping

Ocean charities and organisations including WDC 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, by the Wildlife and Countryside Link coalition*. WDC along with Greenpeace, Marine Conservation Society, Surfers Against Sewage and WWF 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, including designation of Marine Protected Areas, 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. The 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.

Key measures the ocean campaigners are calling for in their Ocean Recovery Manifesto include:

  • designating a minimum of 30% of English waters as fully protected marine areas by 2030
  • creating a fund to restore and protect ‘sea forests’ of seagrass, salt marsh and kelp, which can capture 35 times as much CO2 as rainforests
  • reallocating fishing quotas to make them more sustainable and enhancing monitoring to prevent fishing-related deaths of protected species including whales, dolphins and porpoises
  • strict chemical and plastic production and monitoring requirements to reduce pollution in our seas at the source

In addition, the #OceanDreaming photo competition launched by the coalition today encourages people across the country to share a photo that captures their best seaside memories. The photo can be anything to do with our seas - from rockpooling, to ocean sunsets, to animal encounters. The photo can be recent or, with many people finding it harder to access the sea or choosing not to visit during lockdown, it can be an older memory of the British seaside.

A judging panel of marine experts will whittle the submissions down to 14 images and three overall winners, all of which will be displayed at a parliamentary event in the Autumn. The photos will be used to highlight the benefits that our oceans offer for people, nature and climate with MPs and to ask the Government to provide more support for the seas which support us.

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To enter the #OceanDreaming photo competition, individuals should submit their photo (at least 1MB in size) to oceandreaming@wcl.org.uk by 23:59 on Wednesday 8th July. Entrants are asked to share a brief explanation of why the photograph is important to them alongside the image. For more information and full terms and conditions please visit https://www.wcl.org.uk/ocean-dreaming.asp
*The following organisations support the calls within the Ocean Recovery Manifesto:
Animal Welfare Institute, A Rocha UK, Buglife, CHEM Trust, ClientEarth, Environmental Investigation Agency, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Humane Society International UK, International Fund for Animal Welfare, Institute of Fisheries Management, Marine Conservation Society, ORCA, RSPB, Shark Trust, Surfers Against Sewage, The Wildlife Trusts, Whale and Dolphin Conservation, Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, WWF-UK, Zoological Society of London (ZSL).

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