MPs call on the government to act now to protect oceans and stop destroying marine life.

The Sustainable Seas Report published today says that urgent action is needed on climate change, sustainable fisheries and aquaculture, and marine conservation.

The report – written by the Environmental Audit Committee group of MPs –  calls on the Government to bring forward the UK’s 2042 target date for achieving zero avoidable plastic waste as plastic pollution is set to treble in the next 10 years. The report also calls on the UK to rapidly decarbonise our economy to meet net-zero emissions by 2050.

The report highlights the following :

  • Plastic pollution in oceans is set to treble in the next 10 years
  • UK must drive global efforts to protect the oceans with a legally binding ‘Paris Agreement for the Sea’
  • Our seas face a triple threat from climate change causing warming, deoxygenation and acidification – which threatens all coral reefs
  • Deep sea mining risks catastrophic impacts on seafloor species and habitats
  • Long-term harm from plastic pollution is unknown according to the Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser ‘because we haven’t looked hard enough’

The Government’s ‘out of sight, out of mind’ treatment of the oceans puts marine resources at great risk. Climate change poses a triple whammy of threats to oceans from warming, deoxygenation and acidification.

Even under best case scenario warming of 1.5oC, we are set to lose 90% of all coral reefs globally. The Government must act to drive efforts to protect our seas with a legally binding ‘Paris Agreement for the Sea’ says the Environmental Audit Committee.

Its new report, Sustainable Seas, published today, focuses on threats to marine life from climate change, overfishing, and pollution and sets out what action the Government must now take. The report finds that long-term harm from plastic pollution is unknown according to the Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser ‘because we haven’t looked hard enough’.

Environmental Audit Committee Chair Mary Creagh MP said:

“Our children deserve to experience the wonders of the ocean but climate change poses a triple whammy of threats from ocean warming, deoxygenation and acidification, which are decimating marine life.

“We have to stop treating our seas as a sewer. Plastics, chemicals, and sewage are choking our oceans, polluting our water and harming every ocean species from plankton to polar bears. Supporting Indonesia and Malaysia to reduce plastic while simultaneously exporting our contaminated plastics to them shows the lack of a joined-up approach at the heart of the Government’s strategy.

“The Government’s ‘out of sight, out of mind’ attitude on the seas must change. We are calling on the Government to push for the creation of a legally-binding ‘Paris Agreement for the Sea’ to protect the world’s oceans.”

Ben Hewitt, Director of Campaigns and Projects said:

“This is a stark wake up call for the Government to take urgent action to set strong, binding targets to keep our water clean, safe and free from sewage, to reduce plastic pollution, increase protected ocean areas and tackle climate change. “

The report calls for the following urgent actions

  • Develop a Paris-style agreement to protect the world’s oceans
  • Rapidly decarbonise our economy to meet net-zero emissions by 2050
  • Bring forward the 2042 target date for achieving zero avoidable plastic waste
  • Ban plastic packaging that is difficult or impossible to recycle
  • Introduce legally binding targets for water quality to reduce chemical pollutants from land

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