Verdict on stalled “super year” for marine protection

, 19 January 2022
Verdict on stalled “super year” for marine protection
Cuckoo Wrasse © Rob Goldsmith

By Sarah Ward

Living Seas Officer

In a speech to the Coastal Futures Conference in January 2021, Environment Minister Rebecca Pow declared 2021 to be a ‘Marine Super Year’, stating that the UK would use its presidency of COP26 to lead calls to restore the marine environment to health. The Minister stressed that global leadership ‘‘really starts with our ambition and delivery at home’’.

This declaration was welcomed at the time by Wildlife Trusts, but what did it actually mean in practice?

One year on, the Wildlife & Countryside Link’s Marine Group, which includes The Wildlife Trust along with other eNGOs, has published a scorecard which set out what needed to be done in order for 2021 to really be called a ‘Marine Super Year’. This included targets for ocean recovery, marine biodiversity, reforming offshore planning, acting on huge pressures for our seas, and protecting and restoring blue carbon habitats.

The scorecard reads a little like a school report, but sadly the student is lagging behind where they ought to be. In reality, this shows a concerning lack of meaningful and demonstrable action, with ‘good’ progress having been made in only two of the seventeen actions. The report really highlights that 2021 was a missed opportunity for ocean action.

Joan Edwards OBE, Director Policy and Public Affairs at The Wildlife Trusts said: “While 2021 has laid the groundwork, we hope to see the delivery of vital HPMAs in 2022, with a list of pilot sites this Spring and for these protections to be in place by the year’s end. Action to protect our precious marine life remains in the Government’s reach and the ambitions for a Marine Super Year can still be achieved given sufficient political will.

“We call on the Government to enact the policies we have highlighted as outstanding from 2021 as the basis of a comprehensive marine recovery agenda for 2022.”

For further information and to read the report scorecard, please visit The Wildlife Trusts’ website.

Leave a comment