13 JUN 2019
Protect the Ocean
Thank you very much for your email concerning plastic in the oceans and I do understand your concerns about marine pollution.
I realise you are concerned about the use of plastics and I share your concern on this matter and was pleased to visit Salcombe Primary School to see their work as a Plastic Free School. In addition, I recently met with the Plastic Free Totnes group to hear about their endeavours, you can find out more about their campaign at the following website: https://www.transitiontowntotnes.org/2018/06/plastic-free-totnes-campaign/
I am delighted that plans have been set out to create 41 new Marine Conservation Zones across the UK, safeguarding almost 12,000 square kilometres of marine habitats and marking the most significant expansion of the UK's 'Blue Belt' of protected areas to date. The proposed protections, announced on World Oceans Day, will cover an area almost eight times the size of Greater London.
No new activities deemed damaging, such as dredging or significant coastal or offshore development, will be allowed to take place in these areas. Existing harmful activities will be minimised or stopped to allow important habitats to recover. Rare or threatened marine habitats and species that will be protected include the short snouted seahorse, stalked jellyfish and peacock's tail seaweed.
Some 50 zones had already been designated around England in 2013 and 2016 as part of the Blue Belt. This third and final tranche will be designated within 12 months of a consultation that closed on 20 July, bringing the total area of protection to over 32,000 square kilometres. Considering other types of marine protected area, the total sea area under protection will amount to around 220,000 square kilometres, meaning almost two fifths of English seas would be protected.
The UK leads the world on marine protection and is on track to deliver over 4 million square kilometres of protected ocean around the UK Overseas Territories by 2020. Together with existing Marine Protected Areas around the British Indian Ocean Territory, South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands and within the British Antarctic Territory, more recent developments have seen new and planned enhanced protections in waters around Pitcairn, St. Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha.
You may also like to look at the government's 25 Year Environment Plan and you can do so via the following website: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/25-year-environment-plan
I actually visited a local business earlier this year who are making a difference in marine conservation, reducing bycatch and plastic waste in our oceans. You may like to read more about their work: https://www.fishtekmarine.com/
I do think the government is taking positive steps to protect our marine environment and you can find out more about what is being done here: https://www.gov.uk/environment/marine-environment
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