Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust has launched Living Seas, its vision for the UK’s marine environment – where wildlife thrives from the depths of the ocean to the coastal shallows; where rocky reefs are bursting with brightly coloured fish, corals and sponges, and dolphins and seals dart among the waves – at an event in the House of Commons today.
The launch follows the passing, in November, of the Marine and Coastal Access Act (MCAA), for which The Wildlife Trusts campaigned for nearly a decade. The challenge for the next five years is to ensure the Act is effectively implemented – that urgent action is taken to turn the UK’s over-fished, over-exploited, and currently under-protected waters back into a thriving marine environment. The Wildlife Trusts have a clear vision for how this should happen, and a plan for achieving it within 20 years, a single generation.
The Wildlife Trusts are achieving great things across the UK, working at the local level to understand, protect and raise awareness of our marine wildlife and habitats, from seagrass meadows to dolphins and seals.
In a few places, we are even starting to see possible signs of our seas recovering. Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust has recorded an increase in seal numbers at Donna Nook each year since 2007, and there are early signs of recovery in the fragile ecosystem of the Lyme Bay reefs on the south coast, where The Wildlife Trusts’ campaign achieved a ban on scallop-dredging in 2008.
Professor Aubrey Manning, BBC television presenter and president of The Wildlife Trusts, launched the Living Seas vision. He said: "The Living Seas vision is very direct in its aims. It sets out a clear plan of how we, The Wildlife Trusts, and our partners and supporters, can help achieve them. The opportunities that the Marine and Coastal Access Act has opened up need to be seized on immediately. We can no longer continue to treat the oceans as limitless. In particular, we need an effective and well-managed network of Marine Protected Areas by 2012.
"We may not get another opportunity to make Living Seas a reality. The future of our oceans hangs in the balance, and we want to tip it in the right direction for wildlife, and for the people – all of us – who depend upon it."
Elizabeth Biott, Conservation Officer, Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust attended the Living Seas launch and commented: "We would like people to join us on our journey towards Living Seas by getting out and exploring the coastal and marine environment of Lincolnshire. There are events to help you discover more, for example the Beach Clean at Gibraltar Point National Nature Reserve from 12.30pm until 3.30pm on Sunday 31 January when we will see what the winter storms have washed up. The event is free but please book your place in advance on 01754 898057."
The Living Seas vision report is available to download from conservation pages of the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trusts’ website.