Marine Environment News in Brief - April 2023 | News & Blogs | Seafish

Marine Environment News in Brief - April 2023

Catch up on the latest news in the marine environment including Spurdog guidance 2023, marine plans and marine net gains.

Water Quality, Shellfish Production and Failures in Regulation

A Westminster Hall debate on water quality and shellfish production was held on 15 March on behalf of APPG Shellfish. This considered the need to improve the UK’s water quality, the need for a flexible shellfish classification system, and for negotiations with the EU on the live bivalve mollusc class B issue to be resolved. Also discussed were the environmental and food security benefits of Pacific oysters and the need for a pragmatic policy to facilitate their cultivation.

A recording of the debate and a transcript are available on the UK Government website.

The House of Lords has published ‘The affluent and the effluent: cleaning up failures in water and sewage regulation’ report which summarises the evidence heard in relation to its inquiry into Ofwat and regulation of the water industry. The reports calls on the Government to publish a National Water Strategy and set out clear expectations for the quality of the water environment.

Spurdog Guidance 2023

Following ICES advice on the Northeast Atlantic stock, Spurdog have been removed from the prohibited species list, enabling the Spurdog fishery to recommence in UK and EU waters. A Statutory Instrument permitting this has come into force.

Marine Plans

The Welsh Government Minister for Climate Change, Julie James, has published a statement on the future of the Welsh National Marine Plan following a review into the first three years of its implementation. This notes the plan's positive influence on approaches to marine management in Wales.

For England, the Defra and the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) have published a three year review of the East Marine Plans. The review indicates that the plan policies have had a positive effect. However, wider legislative and policy changes since the adoption of the plans means that their intended outcomes are no longer aligned to the UK’s national priorities. It is expected that the plans will be replaced by 2027.

Marine Net Gain

A summary of the responses to the Principles of Marine Net Gain consultation has been published. 92 responses were received, which Defra will use to inform the government’s response to the consultation. Publication of the government response is expected later in 2023.

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Synthesis Report

The IPCC has prepared a Synthesis Report that integrates and summarises the findings of three Working Groups Assessment Reports (WGI – The Physical Science Basis; WGII – Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability; and WGIII – Mitigation of Climate Change) together with three Special Reports (SR15 - Global Warming of 1.5°C; SRCCL - Climate Change and Land; and SROCC- The Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate).

UN Secretary-General António Guterres has called the Synthesis Report “a survival guide for humanity” and “a clarion call to massively fast-track climate efforts by every country and every sector and on every timeframe.” For further information see:

Summary report for policymakers

Resilient UK coastal communities and seas

Through the Marine Natural Capital and Ecosystem Assessment (mNCEA) programme, Defra are launching a competition with UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to enhance the resilience, health and wellbeing of UK coastal communities and seas. This funding opportunity for UK research organisations opens in April 2023.


  • 17 April 2023: Scottish Government consultation on Highly Protected Marine Areas.
  • 29 May 2023: Defra consultation on management measures for industrial sandeel fishing in English waters of the North Sea.