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UK Seas

Volume 514: debated on Wednesday 21 July 2010

I am today placing in the Library of the House a copy of the report prepared by the UK marine monitoring and assessment strategy (UKMMAS) community entitled “Charting Progress 2: the state of UK seas”. A copy will also be available on the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ website (http://chartingprogress.

Charting Progress 2 is the most comprehensive report on the state of the UK marine environment ever undertaken and is the result of a five-year study into how human use and other pressures, such as climate change, are affecting our seas. It draws on evidence gathered by scientists from marine agencies, research institutes, universities, environmental organisations and industries around the UK. All the evidence has been peer reviewed by national and international scientists.

The top findings of the report are:

Sea levels have risen by 14 cm during the last century and surface temperatures have increased by 1° centigrade since the late nineteenth century;

Fish stocks have improved but many are still fished unsustainably;

Many estuaries are cleaner and this has increased the biodiversity and number of fish species;

Contamination by hazardous substances (such as heavy metals) has reduced in most regions and there are few or no problems relating to radioactivity, eutrophication or algal toxins in seafood;

Litter, particularly plastic, was found on all beaches surveyed, as well as in the sea and on the seabed;

The main pressures on the marine environment are damage to and loss of habitat on the seabed from fishing and the presence of physical structures.

Our seas are three times the size of our land and yet while we have many reports that tell us what is happening to our land, we have little to inform us about the state of our seas. Charting Progress 2 allows us to monitor our progress and prioritise what action Government and business need to take to achieve clean, healthy, safe, productive and biologically diverse oceans and seas. As a first step, we have published a Government commentary on Charting Progress 2 (http://chartingprogress.defra. which highlights the important messages coming from UKMMAS’s work and our approach to them and also identifies where we need to improve knowledge or reduce uncertainty before we can make policy and management decisions.