Motion for the Ocean letter to the Secretary of State

Posted on: Tuesday, January 30, 2024

A letter sent to the Secretary of State from Leader Councillor Paul Peacock and Portfolio Holder for Biodiversity and Environmental Services Councillor Emma Oldham.

Dear Secretary of State,

Newark and Sherwood District Council declares urgent need for ocean recovery and calls on government to take action

During our October 2023 Full Council meeting, Councillors from all parties unanimously voted to support a Motion for the Ocean and declared an urgent need for ocean recovery (attached for information). In making this declaration, we recognised that our ocean is in crisis and that local government has an essential role to play in recovering the health of our ocean. We are the first Midlands Council to pass a Motion for the Ocean, in recognition of our residents concerns about the state of our local rivers and ocean. We may not have direct coastal responsibilities, but we understand the significance and impact that our local actions and policies have on the ocean. We have committed to doing everything we can locally, but we cannot do it alone.

Our ocean recovery declaration also committed for us to write to central government asking you to do everything within your power to put the ocean in net recovery by 2030.

Developed by leading ocean experts: Emily Cunningham, Dr Pamela Buchan of the University of Exeter, Nicola Bridge of the Ocean Conservation Trust, and with input from specialists at the University of Plymouth, the model Motion for the Ocean suggests central government do this by:
a) Ensuring Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities have the resources they need to effectively research and monitor our growing number of marine protected areas, and to set and enforce appropriate fishing levels that support local economies and deliver environmental sustainability.
b) Working with coastal communities to co-develop marine policy to ensure it delivers equitable and sustainable outcomes in local placemaking.
c) Appointing a dedicated Minister for Coastal Communities.
d) Embedding ocean and civic literacy into the national curriculum.
e) Stopping plastic pollution at source by strengthening the regulations around single-use plastics and set standards for microfibre-catching filters to ensure that all new domestic and commercial washing machines are fitted with a filter that captures a high percentage of microfibres produced in the wash cycle.
f) Improve the water quality of our rivers, coastal waters and ocean to benefit nature and the health and wellbeing of all UK residents, including by stopping the regular pollution of our rivers and seas.
g) And by listening to marine and social scientific advice to update the Marine Policy Statement and produce a national Ocean Recovery Strategy which will:
i. Enable the recovery of marine ecosystems rather than managing degraded or altered habitats in their reduced state.
ii. Consider levelling up, marine conservation, energy, industrial growth, flood and coastal erosion risk management, climate adaptation and fisheries policy holistically rather than as competing interests.
iii. Develop a smarter approach to managing the health of the entire ocean that moves beyond Marine Protected Areas and enables links to be made across sectors towards sustainability.
iv. Establish improved processes for understanding the benefits of ocean recovery, leaving no doubt the links between this and human lives, livelihoods and wellbeing.

We recognise that this government strives to be a world leader in marine conservation, but more needs to be done to move from ocean decline to recovery – for the good of our economies, our communities and the natural environment on which they all depend.

We look forward to your response and your action to put our ocean in net recovery by 2030.

Yours sincerely,

Cllr Paul Peacock
Leader of the Council

Cllr Emma Oldham
Portfolio Holder for Biodiversity and Environmental Services