Thank you for contacting me about the health of the seas.
Since 2019, the UK has led the Global Ocean Alliance promoting a target to protect 30 per cent of the oceans by 2030.
Last year, the Prime Minister confirmed that the area of marine environment now protected by the UK would expand to more than 4.3 million sq km as a result of the Government’s Blue Belt Programme.
Tristan da Cunha, funded by the programme, announced the largest fully-protected marine reserve in the Atlantic Ocean, closing more than 90% of its waters to harmful activities like bottom-trawling fishing, sand extraction and deep-sea mining.
The Government’s Blue Belt Programme provides £27 million over five years for marine conservation around UK Overseas Territories.
Other Overseas Territories who protect their waters with the support of this initiative include Ascension Island, the British Antarctic Territory, British Indian Ocean Territory, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, the Pitcairn Islands and St Helena.
The 4.3 million sq km of protected sea equates to an area 17 times the size of the UK and more than 1% of the Earth’s entire ocean area.
Through our COP26 and G7 Presidencies, the UK will showcase global leadership in tackling key pressures facing the marine environment.
The UK will use its influence to advocate for greater action and global collaboration. Ministers also intend to publish an update to the UK Marine Strategy Part 3, outlining the measures that will continue to move the UK towards Good Environmental Status in its seas.
At the recent One Planet Summit, the UK accepted the position as Ocean Co-Chair of the High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People.
The protection, restoration and management of the marine environment is central to the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan.
38 per cent of UK waters are in Marine Protected Areas. Ministers have also stated their intention to pilot Highly Protected Marine Areas in Secretary of State waters, and I look forward to reading the Government's response to Richard Benyon's review on this issue.
The Government is taking action to reduce plastic pollution in the sea through the Commonwealth Clean Ocean Alliance, a growing group of 34 Commonwealth member states. The Government has also committed up to £70m to tackle plastic pollution, helping developing countries to prevent plastic waste entering the sea, and has committed to start negotiations on a new global agreement on marine plastic litter and microplastics.
Finally, Ministers have committed to establishing a new £500m Blue Planet Fund, to help developing countries protect the sea from key human-generated threats, including pollution.