Marine Environment News in Brief - September 2022

This month we focus on highly protected marine areas, Greenpeace activity off Cornwall, the Storm Overflows Discharge Reduction Plan and much more.

Highly Protected Marine Areas

The Defra consultation on 5 candidate Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs) in English waters is currently open for responses. These are a form of marine protected area (MPA) that use a whole site approach to protect biodiversity. The higher conservation objectives of HPMAs mean that if designated, all forms of fishing will be prevented within site boundaries. Read our blog on What happens when you add ‘Highly’ to Marine Protected Areas?

Hauling up Solutions 2

The report summarising the workshop ‘Hauling Up Solutions 2: Exploring new ways to expand the bycatch-reduction toolkit’ has been published on the Clean Catch UK website. This highly participatory event, held at the national Marine Aquarium (Plymouth), sought to build on conversations around fishing gear design and use, as well as methods for reducing bycatch of sensitive species.

Greenpeace activity off Cornwall and the MMO response

Greenpeace UK has placed 18 limestone boulders on the seabed in the South West Deeps (East) Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ) with the aim of disrupting industrial fishing. The boulders weigh between 500kg (78st 10lb) and 1,400kg (220st 6lb). Greenpeace have published ‘5 reasons why Greenpeace built another underwater boulder barrier’.  

The MMO note that the requirement under the Marine and Coastal Access Act that any deposit of construction below high water requires a Marine Licence. Greenpeace do not hold, nor have they applied for one and as such their activity is potentially illegal. MMO are disappointed that Greenpeace have not taken into account the programme of work underway to manage all fishing activities in England’s 40 offshore marine protected areas (MPAs), including South West Deeps (East) MCZ, by the end of 2024.

Storm overflows discharge reduction plan

Defra has published a Storm Overflows Discharge Reduction Plan. This requires water companies to achieve the targets:

  • by 2035, water companies will have to improve all storm overflows discharging into or near every designated bathing water; and improve 75% of overflows discharging to high priority nature sites
  • by 2050, this will apply to all remaining storm overflows covered by our targets, regardless of location.

Overflows that are causing the most harm will be addressed first and water companies will be expected to consider nature-based solutions in their planning.

WildFish have challenged the plan, considering it unlawful, and have requested that a judicial review is undertaken. Find out more by visiting

Aquaculture Funding Opportunity

The Centre for Innovation Excellence in Livestock (CIEL) is currently offering a Aquaculture Seed Funding opportunity. This Funding is for CIEL Members or organisations that will become a Member for the next two years. Proposals are being sort under the themes of:

  • Life Cycle Assessment and Blue Carbon in Aquaculture or
  • Algae – crossover from “aqua” to “agri”.


  • 28 Sept 2022: Defra consultation on Highly Protected Marine Areas.
  • 16 Nov 2022: Defra consultation on Managing flyseine vessel pressure on demersal non-quota species.


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