Seas and Oceans: Environment Protection

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 10th June 2019.

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Photo of Julian Knight Julian Knight Conservative, Solihull

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps the Government is taking to protect oceans and marine life.

Photo of Therese Coffey Therese Coffey The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The UK is working both domestically and internationally to improve global ocean conservation in line with the Sustainable Development Goals, especially SDG14. Internationally, we are leading calls to protect 30% of the world’s ocean by 2030. We are on track to protect 4 million square kilometres of ocean across our Overseas Territories by 2020 and are backing an Ascension Island bid to protect 100% of its offshore waters. To support the achievement of the “30by30” target the UK is working hard to secure the agreement of a new Implementing Agreement under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction in 2020.

The UK is at the forefront in establishing Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). We currently have 355 sites protecting 25% of UK waters. Included in these figures, is the recent designation of the third tranche of Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs), where a further 41 sites have been designated. This tranche builds on the 50 MCZs previously designated and essentially completes the UK’s contribution to the ecologically coherent network of MPAs in terms of habitat and species representation.

We are also working to reduce plastic pollution in the ocean and are leading global efforts to tackle the problem through our support of the G7 Oceans Plastics Charter, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy and the Commonwealth Blue Charter. In April 2018, we launched the Commonwealth Clean Ocean Alliance (CCOA), which we co-lead with Vanuatu. The CCOA encourages its 25 member countries to take steps to eliminate avoidable single-use plastics, significantly reduce single use plastic carrier bags by 2021 and implement a ban of microbeads in rinse-off personal care products by 2021.

The Government’s forthcoming International Ocean Strategy will set out our plan to work with our international partners to secure a sustainable, prosperous and secure ocean future.

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