Protecting the Marine Environment..... one of Coastwise's key interests, and Carli Cocciardi, DWT's new(ish) Marine Nature Recovery Officer, explained to members why she became interested in this marine policy field, and how she aims to put it into practice. She pointed out that the last time DWT had anyone in this role was 2017.

There has been a disastrous reduction in marine biomass, and to illustrate this, the spawning stock biomass is less than 20% of its recorded high in 1970. There has been some recovery recently, but as with many other areas of the natural world, we have a tendency to change baselines to make the impact seem less severe.

DWT aims to protect more marine habitats and to influence the reduction of fishery pressures, with priority actions such as "10% of Devon seas are in No Take Zones or HPMAs".

Carli showed how this particular action is a long way off being achieved by showing the website, where the wide variety of designations is plotted and shows how much is yet to be protected. There is also scope for rationalisation of designations.

There is some hope in the shape of mariculture - such as farming mussels and algae. Simply having these anchored structures in the sea generates protection and habitats for other marine life, and the fact that their footprint reduces trawled area means less disturbance to the marine environment, and that they are de facto MPAs. These farms have the potential to be useful to be useful to the fishing industry as the new life generated by protective designations can have a spillover effect beyond their boundaries.

One of the major drawbacks to all these efforts is the lack of good data sets, and particularly for mobile species. As an example, the Atlantic Bluefin Tuna suffered a 74%decline between 1957 and 2007, but in 2013  a return to UK waters was seen.

However, will they stay and breed ? We don't know, but DWT is a science-led organisation so there's a need to collaborate with others in the field to maximise the benfits of any data which does exist, or
can be gathered.

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