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Shouting the benefits of healthy oceans from the rooftops of Parliament

Chris Tuckett, Chair of the Link Marine Group, reports back on work to move ocean recovery up the political agenda.

September 2020

On Tuesday the Link Marine Working Group was delighted to support first ever digital meeting of the Ocean Conservation All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG). Chaired by Steve Double MP, and with a secretariat provided by Surfers Against Sewage, the APPG works to enhance parliamentary discussion of marine protection.

This discussion is an urgent one. Pollution, climate change, overfishing and poor ocean management are hitting marine life hard and we are seeing the rapid decline of ocean habitats and the marine wildlife they support. Despite this mounting crisis, marine matters struggle to make it onto the political agenda - the last major piece of marine legislation, the Marine and Costal Access Act, was passed over a decade ago.

The APPG is doing sterling work in trying to change this, by highlighting the impacts of degrading oceans on of all our lives – from falling fish stocks, to polluted bathing waters, to flooding from rising sea levels. Correspondingly urgent action to restore our oceans will provide a huge range of social and economic benefits for communities living near and far from the ocean.

Amongst the benefits discussed by the APPG on Tuesday were the potential for healthy marine habitats such as kelp forests and seagrass meadows to store carbon, the opportunities for fishing communities from recovering fish stocks through better marine protection and the potential to safeguard England’s beloved, but vulnerable, resident dolphins. Speakers from Surfers Against Sewage, WWF, the Wildlife Trusts and the Marine Conservation Society highlighted how crucial this autumn was for the marine environment, with the Environment Bill, Fisheries Bill and Comprehensive Spending Review offering real opportunities to boost ocean recovery and secure social and economic benefits for people whilst increasing marine wildlife.

To further underline the interconnectedness between the health of the ocean and people, we also presented 14 shortlisted images from Link’s #OceanDreaming competition. The competition ran over the summer, with members of the public being invited to submit entries showing how much the ocean meant to them. The shortlisted images can be viewed here. They tell a moving story about the positive role the ocean plays in our lives, and the urgent need for action to ensure that future generations can continue enjoying our seas.

The Link Marine Working Group look forward to working closely with the Ocean Conservation APPG to continue making the case, in Parliament and beyond, for urgent action on ocean recovery – for healthy seas and enriched lives.

A full write up of the APPG meeting can be found here.

Chris Tuckett is Director of Programmes at the Marine Conservation Society and is Chair of the Link Marine Group

The opinions expressed in this blog are the author's and not necessarily those of the wider Link membership.