Marine Environment News in Brief - October 2021

The latest news on regulation in the marine environment. This month features climate change, ecosystem restoration, aquaculture and consultations.

Blue Carbon Policy Brief

Carbon loss and gain in marine ecosystems has the potential to influence climate change. The Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) has published a policy briefing note on blue carbon. The policy is seeking to maximise the sequestration and storage of carbon within marine habitats and to avoid damage, which may result in release of carbon. This summarises the UK marine ecosystems that contribute to these processes, their current and potential future extent, and the pressures on them.

Access the Blue Carbon POST on the UK Parliamentary website.

Nature Positive 2030

The five UK statutory nature agencies (Natural England [NE], Natural Resources Wales [NRW], NatureScot, Northern Ireland Environment Agency [NIEA] and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee [JNCC]) have jointly published the Nature Positive 2030.

This report sets out how the UK can meet its commitments in the Leaders’ Pledge for Nature, and ensure that nature’s recovery plays a critical role in the UK’s path to Net Zero.

It outlines the importance of utilising natural solutions to tackle climate change, making nine recommendations that could be delivered rapidly:

  • Ensuring wildlife thrives within protected areas on land and at sea.
  • Better conserve wildlife habitats outside protected areas, in particular those areas identified as parts of nature networks or as important blue/green infrastructure.
  • Investing in habitat restoration and creation to strengthen nature networks that deliver for biodiversity and climate change.
  • Ensuring outcomes for nature are integrated in development plans on land and at sea.
  • Tackling atmospheric and diffuse water pollution, especially from nitrogen and ammonia.
  • Developing the market for green finance.
  • Deploying nature-based solutions for climate change mitigation by default.
  • Developing the UK’s evidence base so that it is ready to support the larger, transformative changes underway.
  • Adopting targets to become nature positive.

Find out more about Nature Positive 2030 by visiting the JNCC website.

United Nations Decade of Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030)

The United Nations (UN) Decade on Ecosystem Restoration aims to prevent, halt and reverse the degradation of ecosystems on every continent and in every ocean. The healthier our ecosystems are, the healthier the planet, and restoration can help combat climate change, prevent biodiversity loss and end poverty.

A key step in creating a shared vision of ecosystem restoration is to adopt principles that underpin the full set of ecosystem restoration activities. These principles detail the essential tenets of ecosystem restoration that should be followed to maximize net gain for native biodiversity, ecosystem health and integrity, and human health and well-being in restorative projects.

The 10 key principles for ecosystem restoration that cover all biomes, sectors and regions have been published by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Commission on Ecosystem Management (IUCN CEM) and the Society for Ecological Restoration (SER).

The Principles for ecosystem restoration to guide the United Nations Decade 2021–2030 can be found on the FAO website. Further information on the UN Decade of Ecosystem Restoration and its strategy can be found on the UN website.

Engineering with Nature for Flood Risk Management

International guidelines have been published on Natural and Nature-based features (NNBF) for Flood Risk Management. These guidelines provide practitioners with the best available information concerning the conceptualization, planning, design, engineering, construction, and maintenance of NNBF. The guidance supports resilience and flood risk reduction for coastlines, bays, and estuaries, as well as river and freshwater systems.

The NNBF Guidelines and further information can be accessed on the Engineering with Nature website.

All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) Aquaculture in the UK

Aquaculture is an increasingly important source of seafood in the UK. Different aquaculture sectors face different but overlapping sets of challenges, including competition for space and resources, complex legislation, environmental issues such as water quality, and lack of access to resources. However, the industry has the potential to thrive and diversify, to become a core part of the UK’s ‘blue economy’, and to make a nutritious and sustainable contribution to seafood consumption.

The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Fisheries is partnering with Seafood 2040 to explore aquaculture in the UK. The event will explore the future of the sector, the barriers and opportunities it faces, and how it can work with government and policy.

The event will take place online on 26 October. To register, visit the APPG website.

Welsh Marine Planning

The Western Wales and Dee River Basin Management Plans (RBMPs) set out the strategic issues facing the water environment in the River Basin Districts (RBDs) and the actions planned to protect and improve them between 2021 and 2027. A summary of responses on the consultations to update the River Basin Management Plans has been published. 

The Western Wales RBMP and Dee RBMP consultation responses can be read on the Natural Resources Wales website.

UK Seafood Fund

Fishing businesses across the UK will now have access to £24 million of investment to develop technology, trial new gear and support world-class research to improve the productivity and long-term sustainability of the industry.

The UK Seafood Fund’s objectives are to:

  • rejuvenate the fisheries and seafood sector
  • take advantage of the UK’s additional fishing quota
  • bring economic growth to coastal communities.

The fund is divided into three themes: Science and Innovation; Infrastructure; and Skills and Training.

The current call for funding applications is related to Science and Innovation, which comprises the existing Seafood Innovation Scheme (SIF) and a new Fisheries Industry Science Partnerships (FISP) scheme.

The 3rd round for the Seafood Innovation Fund (SIF) opened on 6 October 2021. The FISP scheme will open on 18 October 2021. Further information on FISP can be found on the Government’s Bravo website.

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) Ocean Stewardship Fund

The Ocean Stewardship Fund aims to increase the number of sustainable fisheries worldwide, funding innovative research and supporting fisheries at all stages on the path to sustainability. Previously funding has been awarded to projects that improve fisheries’ harvest strategies, reducing unwanted bycatch, help fishers to identify protected species and improve release techniques, improve at-sea fishery observer safety, and to map vulnerable marine habitats enabling better fisheries management.

Applications are now open for the 2022 Ocean Stewardship Fund, with further information available on the MSC website.


  • 20 October 2021: Scottish Government consultation on Innovation and Targeted Oil and Gas decarbonisation Offshore Wind Sectoral Marine Plan Areas of Search.
  • 29 November 2021: Defra consultation on Marine Strategy Part Three: UK proposal for programme of measures.


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