Marine Environment News in Brief - January 2022

The latest news on aquaculture in the UK, extended protection for flapper skate, UK's approach to tackling wildlife crime and consultations.

The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) Aquaculture in the UK

Aquaculture is an increasingly important source of sustainable seafood in the UK. Different aquaculture sectors face different but overlapping sets of challenges. The APPG on Fisheries partnered with Seafood 2040 to explore aquaculture in the UK. A policy brief has now been published. This summarises the status of the sector across the home nations, and captures key case-studies and challenges facing the UK aquaculture industry.

Extended protection for flapper skate

Further protection is being provided for the critically endangered flapper skate (part of the common skate complex along with blue skate). The Inner Sound of Skye Marine Protected Area (MPA), which protects a nationally important flapper skate egg nursery, is being extended. The original site was given urgent MPA status in March 2021. Bottom contacting fishing, aquaculture and construction, were all prohibited within the MPA for an initial 12-month period.

Surveys have now discovered a significant number of flapper skate eggs to the north of the original designated MPA and due to the vulnerability of the eggs, the site boundary is being extended. A public consultation is expected to take place in February 2022 before a decision on the permanence of the site’s protected status will be made.

Transforming Scottish Waters

Scotland’s river basin planning focusses on reducing resource use, eliminating waste and the restoration of natural capital. Using a whole systems approach, it supports the delivery of the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency’s (SEPA) regulatory strategy ‘One Planet Prosperity’ and  Scotland’s wider efforts to tackle the climate emergency and biodiversity crisis.

To complement this and ensure that rivers, beaches and urban waters are free from debris and reduce spills from sewers, Scottish Water has published a route map. This focuses on:

  • Enabling the monitoring and reporting of discharges from all Combined sewer overflows (CSOs) that discharge into the highest priority waters;
  • A significant reduction in sewer related debris in the environment; and
  • A reduction of spills from the sewer network.

Further information on river basin planning can be accessed on the SEPA website. Access the Scottish Water Improving Urban Waters Route Map on the Scottish Water website.

UN assessment of UK’s approach to tackling wildlife crime

The United Nations has recognised the UK’s approach to wildlife crime. The UK is the first of the G7 countries to request the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC) Toolkit Assessment.

The report highlighted the UK’s strength in policing structures and strategies to address wildlife crime, describing the approach as international best practice. The report recommends that the UK undertakes a review of regulations governing the implementation of CITES, particularly the Control of Trade in Endangered Species Regulations 2018. The scale and value of the legal and illegal wildlife trade in the UK also needs to be evaluated to help support the detection of, and collection of data on, the illegal wildlife trade. The eel trade was an area of key concern identified.

The 'Wildlife and Forest Crime Analytic Toolkit Report: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland' is available on the United Nations website.

Ecocide: a fifth international crime defined

In 2021, in response to political demand, an independent expert panel of international criminal and environmental lawyers was convened by the Stop Ecocide Foundation. The panel have drafted a clear and concise legal definition of ‘ecocide’ as a potential fifth crime under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Ecocide is defined as “Unlawful or wanton acts committed with knowledge that there is a substantial likely hood of severe widespread or long-term damage to the environment being caused by these acts.

This definition was discussed at the 20th Assembly of States Parties of the International Criminal Court in an event hosted by three of the world's most climate-vulnerable states: Vanuatu, Samoa and Bangladesh.

A recording of the event is available. 


  • 30 January 2022: Defra consultation on Quinquennial review of protected species listings for schedule 5 and 8 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act.
  • 15 February 2022: Welsh Government consultation on proposal to identify Col-Huw Beach (Llantwit Major) and Penarth Beach as bathing waters under the Bathing Water Regulations 2013.
  • 22 March 2022: Scottish Government consultation on Marine Litter Strategy
  • 22 April 2022: Environment Agency consultation on draft river basin management plans, including protected shellfish waters.


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