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Don't forget the ocean: our open letter

2 minute read

Over half of life on Earth is found in our ocean, yet blue spaces receive vastly less protection than green. This imbalance must be addressed.

Our CEO, Sandy Luk, has written a letter to the UK Government, calling on them to prioritise the ocean during conversations & commitments at COP15, the UN's global biodiversity meeting.

COP15 Open Letter - Full

You can read the letter in full below:

The Marine Conservation Society is the UK’s leading marine charity, fighting for a cleaner, better protected and healthier ocean.

We call on the Prime Minister, as head of the UK Government, to attend the Conference of the Parties of the UN Biodiversity Convention (COP15) in Montreal, to champion ocean biodiversity and recognise the benefits provided by the ocean, for biodiversity and for climate, at least as much as those from terrestrial environments.

We believe that the UK Government can be a frontrunner on the world stage and call on it to use its influence to secure international commitments to:

  • Truly protect 30% of land and sea by 2030.
  • Invest in ocean recovery, recognising the ocean’s importance for providing nature-based solutions for the climate, nature and ocean emergencies.
  • Reduce the levels of pollution in our coastal environments.

To demonstrate its credibility and commitment to effective ocean conservation and management, the UK Government must also act urgently at home. There must be commitment and action to ban the use of bottom-towed gear in all of England’s offshore Marine Protected Areas by the end of 2024; implement the Fisheries Act to ensure sustainable fisheries management in UK seas, including the roll out of Remote Electronic Monitoring (REM) with cameras; and secure the continued application of environmental laws and not revoke or weaken them in a bonfire of regulations at the end of 2023.

The UK Government should also facilitate investment in nature and the ocean. With the climate crisis intensifying, the role of the ocean as a nature-based solution must be properly accounted for. Its role in climate regulation, adaptation and mitigation must be recognised, and there must be investment in the additional benefits that a healthy ocean can provide.

The United Nations declared an Ocean Emergency in June of this year, alongside the already recognised climate and ecological crisis. We must do more to halt and reverse the global loss of biodiversity both on land and in the ocean and ensure that our ocean is at the forefront of decision-making. At last year's Glasgow Conference of the Parties of the Climate Change Convention (COP26), the parties permanently anchored the inclusion of strengthened ocean-based action. To recognise and emphasise the importance of ocean ecosystems and the protection of biodiversity, COP15 needs to match and raise this ambition.

The Marine Conservation Society will be observing the commitments and action that the UK Government makes during COP15. We also look forward to participating in discussions during COP15 and will continue to be the voice for the ocean, pushing for it to be considered as having equal importance, and protection, as terrestrial environments.

So please, for the future of our planet: don’t forget the ocean. 

Yours sincerely,

Sandy Luk, CEO at the Marine Conservation Society

With support from Ocean Ambassadors:

Deborah Meaden, Business Leader, Investor, TV Personality & Writer

Fernando Montaño, Former Royal Ballet Soloist

Lizzie Daly, PhD Wildlife Biologist, Filmmaker & Broadcaster

Miranda Krestovnikoff, Broadcaster, Diver & Author

Tom ‘The Blowfish’ Hird, Marine Biologist, Broadcaster

Inka Cresswell, Wildlife Filmmaker & Marine Biologist

Iolo Williams, Welsh Ornithologist

Zoe Lyons, Comedian