Environmentalists search for 'ocean heroes' amid call for 10-year govt plan to save the seas
13 January 2021, 19:19 | Updated: 14 January 2021, 05:45
Environmentalists are calling for an urgent recovery strategy to address what they call the "chronic health of our seas".
A report by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), supported by Sky's Ocean Rescue Campaign, has called for government investment and a plan to restore marine habitats by 2030.
It also says restoring the UK's seas could pump billions of pounds into the economy by 2050, bringing thousands of new jobs and huge climate benefits.
The campaign includes a petition urging the UK government to commit to a ten-year ocean recovery plan by tackling pollution, plastic, over fishing and climate change, and protecting at least a third of the UK's seas.
Our seas currently absorb over a third of the UK's carbon emissions, leading environmentalists to stress the importance of looking after marine health.
"Our seas are in trouble," said Tanya Steele, the chief executive at WWF. "And the report that Sky and WWF have worked on together highlights that business as usual just isn't an option and the ocean is too important in tackling climate change.
"By restoring our seas, what we also have is a very considerable benefit in terms of boosting jobs - it outlines up to 100,000 new jobs could be created by 2050, and it could create a £50bn boost to the UK economy, but importantly it will also enable us to tackle climate change and restore the really precious wildlife that works incredibly hard for us."
The report, called Value of UK Restored Seas, estimates less than 1% of marine areas currently have full protection.
Coastal erosion is also destroying crucial marine habits with 85% of saltmarshes and 95% of oyster reefs lost. Seagrass meadows, capable of capturing vast amounts of carbon, have also suffered a 90% decline, according to the report.
Sky Ocean Rescue and WWF are now asking the public to become "ocean heroes" and play their part in restoring the health of our seas.
According to Ms Steele, this could include sharing experiences and personal pictures of times spent by the sea, along with showing support for ocean recovery.
She said: "I think to be an ocean hero we're asking people to get involved, share with us some of your ocean stories; your ocean selfie - we've all spent an amazing amount of time by the sea.
"Help sign up on our petition; support this ocean recovery strategy. We need it for the future. And think about ways that you buy, you shop, so we have healthy oceans for the future as well."
Jeremy Darroch, executive chairman at Sky and WWF-UK ambassador said: "The health of our oceans and climate change are inextricably linked. It is critical that we invest in positive solutions for ocean and climate recovery that help us build back from the global crisis in the right way.
"Four years ago, Sky Ocean Rescue was launched to tackle plastic pollution in our seas but today this report highlights how much more needs to be done to save our oceans and halve the climate emergency."
Sky Ocean Rescue and WWF are working to restore vital carbon sinks and to date have planted over a million seagrass plants.
Sky and WWF have been working together since 2009 in a joint mission to tackle some of the world's most pressing environmental issues, such as the deforestation of the Amazon, restoring and protecting ocean habitats, and the climate emergency.