By Alec Taylor, Marine Policy Officer
Anybody? If you haven’t, I can assure you that as with much legislation coming down from Brussels, the writing style might be a little dry but the storyline’s really important. It’s likely to be a really powerful driver for improving the health of our marine ecosystems, including its most valuable habitats and species. And of course that includes seabirds as essential parts of the picture!
The overall aim of the Directive is to get all EU marine waters into what’s called “Good Environmental Status”, a broad term which means that marine ecosystems are healthy, diverse and productive and that human usage of the sea is not harming the environment in the short and long term. This covers a huge range of factors, from biodiversity to fisheries, from reducing litter, pollution and underwater noise to getting rid of alien species.
Each coastal Member State has until 2020 to get its waters into this condition – no mean feat given the history of deterioration and unsustainable usage of our seas in the past. This year the UK has published its assessment of what Good Environmental Status means for our waters, and what targets it will be using to get our waters from here to there. The RSPB along with other NGOs will be pushing the government to show a real level of ambition - this isn’t about maintaining the status quo (lord forbid those haircuts) or delivering ‘sustainable development’, this is about getting our marine environment back up to the quality where sustainable use is even possible.
UK seabirds will be a key part of the process, including targets for certain species such as black-legged kittiwakes, which are excellent indicator species for the wider environment. It’s a real opportunity for us to be the first generation to leave the environment in a better state than when we found it (as the government itself has stated here). Lots of work to do!
Keep an eye on this blog to find out when and how your voice will make the most impact on Government's decisions about our seas - such as the belated public consultation on proposals for Marine Protected Areas, currently expected around the end of the year. You can sign up to email alerts for this blog by just clicking on the link on the top right hand side. Together we can step up and safeguard our sealife.
Puffins: Anthony Griffiths