Protection for oceans

The UK is a global leader in protecting our seas, the ocean and marine life, working with counterparts both in the UK and overseas.

Almost 200 countries agreed a deal to protect nature at COP15 in December 2022, including a global commitment to halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030 and also to protect 30 per cent of land and oceans by 2030. I understand that nearly 8.3 per cent of the global ocean is protected. The UK has announced nearly £30 million to support developing countries to deliver the "30 by 30" target. In addition, in March, UN Member States agreed the High Seas Treaty, which aims to place 30 per cent of the seas into protected areas by 2030.

Further, 374 Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) 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 Government’s Environmental Improvement Plan (EIP) sets the country on a path to deliver an improved marine environment and halt the decline in biodiversity which benefits us all. As set out in the EIP, the Government has a statutory target to have 70 per cent of designated features in MPAs in a favourable condition by 2042, with the remainder in a recovering condition.

Finally, the first three Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs) have come into force. These areas of the sea will benefit from the highest level of protection which will exclude all fishing, thus encouraging full recovery of marine ecosystems. For HPMAs to be successful, the Government will work with the fishing industry, other marine industries and sea users in designating, managing and monitoring them.