Thank you for contacting me about the health of the ocean.
The UK is a global leader in protecting our seas, the ocean and marine life, and works with counterparts both in the UK and overseas to help achieve these aims.
Since 2019, the United Kingdom has been leading the Global Ocean Alliance of countries championing ambitious ocean action under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), including the target to protect at least 30 per cent of the global ocean by 2030. The United Kingdom also serves as ocean co-chair of the High Ambition Coalition for Nature & People, which champions 30by30 for both the land and the ocean. Between these alliances, over 120 countries have pledged to support the global 30by30 ocean target at the upcoming 15th Conference of Parties to the CBD in December 2022.
I am aware that nearly 8.3 per cent of the global ocean is now protected. Achieving a 30by30 target will require an international effort. The UK is leading the way, with 374 Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) now protect 38 per cent of UK waters, which are all subject to planning and licensing regimes to ensure they are protected from harmful activities. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has built a comprehensive network of MPAs and are focusing on making sure they are protected properly.
Following the Benyon Review into Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs), the Government has been working on introducing pilot HPMAs in English waters and recently held a consultation on this. HPMAs provide the highest protection in our seas and will allow full recovery to as most natural a state as possible, as they prohibit all destructive, extractive and depositional activities within the entire site, thus enabling the ecosystem to thrive.
Finally, the UK has also launched the Blue Planet Fund, a commitment of £500 million from the United Kingdom Aid budget to support developing countries protect and sustainably manage their marine resources, including through Marine Protected Areas.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
With best wishes.
Jonathan Lord MP
Member of Parliament for Woking