Marine Environment News in Brief - August 2022
The Blue Carbon Mapping Project
The UK will become the first nation to produce a complete map of its blue carbon stores. Led by the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) and funded by WWF-UK, the Wildlife Trusts and RSPB, the Blue Carbon Mapping Project builds on previous work to map blue carbon resources within Nature Conservation Marine Protected Areas and Special Areas of Conservation in Scotland’s inshore waters.
There is currently limited information about how much carbon is stored in and sequestered by UK marine habitats such as saltmarsh, seagrass beds, kelp forest, biogenic reefs, and marine sediments. The project aims to provide a better understanding of, and protection for, the UK’s blue carbon habitats. Scientists will assess the carbon storage and sequestration potential of all UK seas. The final report will be produced by the summer of 2023, with initial findings expected later this year.
Tackling the Climate Crisis Through Ocean Protection
Wildlife and Countryside Link have published 12 key recommendations to the UK Government for tackling the climate crisis through ocean protections (alongside real-term emissions cuts through ending the use of fossil fuels). These focus on the need to protect blue carbon, building resilience in marine and coastal systems, delivering marine net gain to support restoration, and reforming the UK Marine Strategy.
Marine Net Gain
The Defra consultation on the Principles of Marine Net Gain is currently open for responses. The aim of marine net gain is to promote recovery and will require that all in-scope developments leave the environment in a better state. At Seafish, we've produced a short blog on why this is of relevance to the fishing and aquaculture industries.
UK Bycatch Mitigation Initiative
UK Government and Devolved Administrations have published the UK Bycatch Mitigation Initiative (BMI). This is linked to ambitions in the Fisheries Act 2021 and UK international commitments to minimise and, where possible, eliminate the bycatch of sensitive marine species.
The BMI identifies activities and potential actions that will be used to help achieve this policy objective. As marine environment and fisheries policy is largely devolved, each fisheries policy authority will be responsible for considering which of the actions are relevant to their waters and how the actions will be implemented for specific sensitive species, areas or fisheries.
Offshore Renewables in England and Wales
On 21st April 2022, The Crown Estate gave notice to the UK and Welsh Governments of its intent to proceed with the Offshore Wind Leasing Round 4 plan on the basis of a ‘derogation’, following the plan-level Habitats Regulations Assessment. The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has confirmed that The Crown Estate can proceed with the Offshore Wind Leasing Round 4 plan, which aims to generate up to 8GW of offshore wind energy.
Water Company Performance Report
The Environment Agency has published their annual report on the environmental performance of England’s nine water and sewerage companies. The performance of most companies has declined, falling to the lowest level seen under the Environmental Performance Assessment (EPA).
The Environment Agency has called for:
- Courts to impose much higher fines for serious and deliberate pollution incidents. Fines currently handed down by the courts are often less than a Chief Executive’s salary.
- Prison sentences for Chief Executives and Board members whose companies are responsible for the most serious incidents, and where company directors are struck-off, so they cannot move on in their careers after illegal environmental damage.
Natural Resources Wales have published similar findings for Wales.
Nutrient Pollution Reduction Plan
Plans to help safeguard England’s protected sites from nutrient pollution have been announced. These include a new legal duty on water companies in England to upgrade wastewater treatment works by 2030 in ‘nutrient neutrality’ areas to the highest achievable technological levels. A Nutrient Mitigation Scheme will also be developed, enabling developers to purchase ‘nutrient credits’ which will be used by Natural England to invest in projects such as wetland expansion to improve water quality.
To find out more, access the Government press release on GOV.UK.
- 30 August 2022: Defra consultation on Principles of Marine Net Gain.
- 7 Sept 2022: Ofwat consultation on 2024 price review methodology covering expectations and requirements for water companies.
- 12 Sept 2022: Scottish Government consultation on Scottish Biodiversity Strategy 2022, which includes targets for the marine environment.
- 19 Sept 2022: Defra consultation on managing quota in 2023 and beyond.
- 28 Sept 2022: Defra consultation on Highly Protected Marine Areas.
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