A golden opportunity or a broken promise? Government’s chance to secure future health of UK’s struggling seas

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Marine Conservation Society calls for ambitious policy as Fisheries Bill returns to the Commons

The new Fisheries Bill is a prime opportunity for the UK Government to put in place policies which support the future health of the UK’s seas. The Marine Conservation Society is urging politicians and policymakers to put sustainability and science at the forefront of future fisheries management and retain the inclusion of key amendments in the Fisheries Bill as it returns to the House of Commons on 1st September 2020.

The charity believes crucial amendments in two areas of the Bill must remain: environmental sustainability as the prime objective of the Bill, and a commitment to rolling out Remote Electronic Monitoring with cameras (REM) on all vessels fishing in UK waters.

The Marine Conservation Society’s recent campaign, ‘Say No to Red Rated Seafood’, garnered over 13,000 signatures from the public who want unsustainable, ‘red rated’ seafood to become a thing of the past. The petition calls on UK government and business to improve the fate of unsustainable fisheries for the future health of UK seas, the Fisheries Bill is a golden opportunity to do just that.

The charity’s 2018 campaign ‘May Not Contain Fish’ further shows the public’s support for ambitious and sustainable legislation. Almost 19,000 people responded to the UK Government’s consultation on post-Brexit fisheries management and called for sustainability to be at the heart of new legislation. The UK Fisheries Bill is an opportunity to develop legislation which responds to the public’s call for a sustainable future for the UK’s fisheries and delivers on government promises.

In a survey conducted by Rakuten, 75% of UK respondents agreed or strongly agreed with the statement “Protecting the health of the environment should be a priority for governments and the public”. In a landscape shaped by the environmental impacts of the Coronavirus pandemic, the public wants to see government committed to putting the health of the environment first.

A truly green recovery from the pandemic will secure a healthy environment for future generations, bringing economic benefits with it. The recovery of fish stocks to healthy levels would increase the value of fish landings significantly, resulting in an estimated 5,000 new jobs. Healthy seas full of life bring with them economic gain for those reliant upon the UK’s blue resources for employment and income. Ensuring the Fisheries Bill is led by sustainability is the first step towards a fruitful green and blue recovery.

Sandy Luk, CEO of the Marine Conservation Society: “Undeniably, our seas are struggling and the UK public wants solutions. Governments have failed to meet 2020 deadlines to end overfishing and so we can no longer accept “business as usual’ and short-term thinking from our leaders. The new Fisheries Bill, with these important amendments, would mark the start of progressive new management that would finally allow the recovery of our important fisheries resources.

The Fisheries Bill is a prime opportunity for governments to show their commitment to a healthy and well-protected ocean for the future. Without sustainability as the prime objective, the UK Government will miss its chance to achieve its promise of truly sustainable fisheries.”

The Fisheries Bill will return to the House of Commons on 1st September 2020 for its Second Reading stage.

To keep up to date and learn more about the Marine Conservation Society’s key asks, please visit www.mcsuk.org.

Nick and Caroline Robertson-Brown

Nick and Caroline Robertson-Brown

Nick and Caroline Robertson-Brown are a husband and wife team of underwater photographers. Both have degrees in environmental biology from Manchester University, with Caroline also having a masters in animal behaviour. Nick is a fellow of the Royal Photographic Society in underwater wildlife photography and he also has a masters in teaching. They are passionate about marine conservation and hope that their images can inspire people to look after the world's seas and oceans. Their Manchester-based company, Frogfish Photography, offers a wide range of services and advice. They offer tuition with their own tailor made course - the Complete Underwater Photography Award. The modules of the course have been written to complement the corresponding chapters in Nick's own book: Underwater Photography Art and Techniques. They also offer equipment sales and underwater photography trips in the UK and abroad. For more information visit www.frogfishphotography.com.

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