Election 2024: Seas The Day

June 13, 2024


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Banning bottom trawling in UK marine protected areas as a priortity for this election.

The UK is recognised as a leader in international ocean conservation.  

But the UK’s leadership in its overseas territories is not matched by ambition at home, where effective marine protections remain weak and overfishing is still allowed.  The next administration needs to make a significant step forward in the protection of our domestic seas if we are to see a recovery for both marine life and local inshore British fisheries. 

We call on all political parties to commit to maintaining and enhancing leadership throughout the 2024-2029 parliament. 






Create areas for nature in the sea 

  • Ban damaging fishing gear in all UK Marine Protected Areas and create more highly protected areas where all fishing and extractive activity is prohibited.  
  • Bottom trawling takes place in over 90 per cent of UK domestic offshore Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). Bottom-towed fishing gear should be banned in all MPAs designated to protect the seabed.  
  • Establishing Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) allows ecosystems to recover. MPAs provide safe havens for marine life, including endangered species. 


End overfishing by setting sustainable catch limits 

  • Only 46% of the UK fishing quota was set at sustainable levels from 2019-2024.  
  • The next administration has the opportunity to end overfishing by setting catch limits according to scientific advice and introducing measures to protect all fish species.  
  • Overfishing depletes fish stocks and disrupts ecosystems. Sustainable catch limits ensure that fish populations can reproduce and maintain healthy numbers. 


All fishing vessels will have cameras installed by 2030 

  • Just as for abattoirs on land, cameras on all fishing vessels over 10 metres and other vessels with a high risk of bycatch should be installed with working camera systems by 2030.  
  • Monitoring fishing activities through onboard cameras ensures compliance with regulations, reduces illegal fishing, and promotes transparency. 
  • Cameras on fishing vessels can provide real-time data on fish catches, bycatch, and fishing practices. This data accuracy can allow better decision-making and fisheries management. 


Commit to reforming inequality in UK fishing 

  • Just 26 vessels own 94 per cent of the UK´s mackerel quota, 93 per cent of the herring quota and 97 per cent of the blue whiting quota. As of January 2024, there were 4,896 fishing vessels registered in the UK. This means that only a few big companies profit from this fishery, while the rest of the fishers are excluded. 
  • In the UK, ultimately just four companies own 47 per cent of the mackerel quota.  
  • Reform would allow small-scale fishers to thrive and keep their traditional way of living and provide a dignify life for their families.


Fully protect UK blue carbon habitats such as seagrass and saltmarsh  

  • Blue carbon habitats mitigate climate change and provide essential nursery grounds for fish and other marine organisms. They also sequester more carbon than forests. Just because we don’t see them on land, doesn’t mean they are not working hard to protect us.  
  • Saltmarshes, for example, can reduce wave energy, thus mitigating the impact of coastal erosion and flooding. Protecting these habitats can enhance coastal resilience against sea level rise and extreme weather events. 
  • Through MPA extensions and designations we can protect these crucial habitats.  


Reform the marine licensing process to enable and accelerate active seascape restoration 

  • This reform can bring much-needed economic growth. For example, restored seagrass meadows can boost local fish populations. Also, marine restoration projects can create jobs. 
  • By reforming the licensing process to enable more restoration, the UK could increase its blue carbon storage, contributing to global climate goals.  
  • Restored seascapes provide essential habitats for marine life, increasing biodiversity. This boosts the resilience of marine ecosystems, supporting fisheries and tourism. Additionally, healthy seascapes offer water filtration, improving water quality. 


Support the development of high integrity marine natural capital markets in the UK 

  • Establishing a robust market in the UK with substantial investment can be directed towards marine conservation and restoration projects, generating economic growth while ensuring the sustainable use of marine resources. 
  • Marine natural capital markets can direct investments toward projects that restore habitats. Restored habitats can support more marine life than degraded areas. 
  • Supporting these markets can help combat climate change and enhance the resilience of coastal communities through natural flood defences. 




Continue to support the UK’s largest contribution to global conservation 

  • The Blue Belt and Darwin Plus programmes protect over four million sq kms of ocean across the UK Overseas Territories. 
  • The conservation initiatives in the UK Overseas Territories protect endangered species, some of which are found nowhere else on Earth.  
  • The UK can set an example for the world and take the lead in the creation of Marine Protected Areas.  


Ratify the UN High Seas Treaty by June 2025. 

  • The UN High Seas Treaty aims to protect 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030. By achieving this we can safeguard critical habitats for millions of marine species and reduce the risk of their extinction. 
  • The high seas are a crucial resource for food security and livelihoods for millions of people. Effective management under the treaty can prevent overfishing. 
  • Establishing Marine Protected Areas can enhance the ocean’s capacity to act as a carbon sin and support the goal of limiting global temperature rise. 


Maintain the UK moratorium on deep sea mining 

  • We must show global leadership in protecting this precious deep-sea habitat that plays a vital role in regulating our planetary systems by absorbing and storing vast quantities of the carbon dioxide. 
  • By upholding the moratorium on deep sea mining, we help mitigate climate change. 
  • The deep sea could be the house of a species with the potential to cure future diseases. If we don´t protect these habitats we will lose their biodiversity before we even understand it. 


Please share these asks with your standing MP candidates and let them know your desire to see ocean health taken seriously. The ocean sustains all life on earth and government policy must reflect its critical value to both people and planet. 

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