Thank you for contacting me about the health of the ocean.
The UK is a global leader in protecting our seas, the ocean and marine life, and works with counterparts both in the UK and overseas to help achieve these aims. The Government joined other world leaders at the UN Ocean Conference in June to announce new initiatives to protect the global marine environment, marking a significant step forward in our mission to protect at least 30 per cent of the global ocean by 2030.
Across the UK, 372 Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) now protect 38 per cent of UK waters, which are all subject to planning and licensing regimes to ensure they are protected from harmful activities.
Following the Benyon Review into Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs), the Government has committed to introducing pilot HPMAs in English waters. HPMAs provide the highest protection in our seas and will allow full recovery to as most natural a state as possible, as they prohibit all destructive, extractive and depositional activities within the entire site, thus enabling the ecosystem to thrive.
Underpinning the UK’s ambition for ocean health is the commitment to world-class fisheries management to achieve sustainable fisheries, safeguarding stocks and the marine environment for the long-term. The objectives in the Fisheries Act, the Joint Fisheries Statement and Fisheries Management Plans collectively reaffirm these commitments while tailoring the approach to our unique seas and the needs of our fishing industry.
Finally, Ministers are also supporting ocean protection through appropriate funding. For the UK this includes the £80 million Green Recovery Challenge Fund, and the Natural Environment Investment Readiness Fund, both of which have funded successful projects in the marine environment. Internationally, the Government’s £500 million Blue Planet Fund will help some of the world’s poorest communities to protect the ocean from plastic pollution, overfishing and habitat loss.