Investing in the protection of UK seas could create 100,000 jobs and give the economy a £50bn boost, according to a new report published by Sky Ocean Rescue and WWF.
Currently, less than 1% of our marine areas are properly protected, and according to the report, despite the UK governments aim to create healthy seas by 2020, they failed in 11 out of 15 indicators, including those relating to birds, fish and seabed habitats.
The report found that coastal erosion is destroying crucial marine habitats, it is estimated that 85% of saltmarshes and 95% of oyster reefs have been lost.
Over-fishing and poor regulation of protected areas has also led to a dramatic decline in fish stocks, according to the authors of the report, without urgent action the North Sea is expected to see a 35% decline by 2050.
However, the report revealed that restoring the UK’s seas could lead to a multitude of economic benefits. The most pronounced benefit would be seen in the marine renewables industry, where there is potential to create a further 100,000 clean energy jobs.
Also, by bringing industrial trawling to an end and allowing fish stocks to recover it could allow the UK to catch an extra 442,000 tonnes of fish every year, creating an additional 6,600 jobs.
Tanya Steele, Chief Executive at WWF, said: ‘Every second breath of oxygen we take comes from the ocean, but the pressures we are placing on UK seas, from pollution to overfishing, means they now need urgent life support.
‘We must halt and reverse decades of neglect to fully protect more of our ocean – the beating blue heart of our planet. We must invest to unlock the potential of the marine economy, to create tens of thousands of jobs both offshore and onshore.
‘If the UK is to show leadership at COP26 in Glasgow this year, our governments must work with us to put ocean recovery at the centre of our journey to net zero.’
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