Members of conservation charities urge the governments of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to protect marine life and be global leaders on sustaining our oceans and seasThe UK is home to iconic marine wildlife and habitats. Yet, despite the ambitions of the governments of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to achieve “clean, safe, healthy, productive and biologically diverse oceans”, they have failed 11 out of 15 tests for healthy seas. While welcome, the expanded “blue belt” of marine protected areas will result in little more than “paper parks” without proper management and enforcement. Some UK seabird populations have halved in the last 40 years; plastic pollution has been found in all marine mammal species surveyed in the UK, and one UK orca population has failed to breed for 25 years due to chemical pollution. With just a week left of the consultation on the UK marine strategy, the governments must grasp the severity of our ocean emergency and turn the tide for our seas. Delivering an ambitious UK marine strategy is the first step. To be world-leading, this should shield our wildlife through well-monitored and protected conservation areas; sustainable fishing and aquaculture; slashing ocean plastic, chemical and noise pollution; and a planning system that addresses interconnected land and sea issues, such as pollution. Without a step-change in approach, we risk losing our iconic nature and the benefits of a healthy marine environment for people. The UK has repeatedly declared its intent to be a global leader on sustaining our oceans and seas. It has never been more pressing for the four nations to translate that bold ambition into practice.
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