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The North Sea – Our Living Sea?

Monday 13th July

The North Sea – Our Living Sea?

The North Sea – Our Living Sea?

Today, Wildlife Trusts across the East coast of England launch a new website, www.northseawildlife.org.uk to help promote protection of North Sea marine life.
The North Sea – Our Living Sea? What picture does this phrase conjure up in your mind? A rocky reef bursting with brightly coloured fish, corals and sponges? A boat trip in the company of leaping dolphins and playful seals? Fishermen hauling nets brimming with big, tasty fish? Living Seas are all these things and more. But…………
Compared with historic levels, the total weight of fish in the North Sea has dropped by 99% due to over-fishing. In places, the damage caused to the seabed from unsustainable practices – whether construction, dredging, offshore industry or fishing - has resulted in it being altered beyond recognition. The Wildlife Trusts aim to bring back ‘Living Seas’. To ensure this happens, and our North Sea wildlife receives the protection it urgently needs, twelve Wildlife Trusts (Northumberland, Durham, Tees Valley, Yorkshire, Sheffield, Lincolnshire, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire and Rutland, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Northamptonshire and Peterborough (BCNP), Norfolk, Suffolk), have embarked on a new project with the aim to make the concept of ‘Living Seas’ a reality. This new project will promote protection of the North Sea’s weird and wonderful marine wildlife, from microscopic plankton to gigantic whales, by helping to create a network of Marine Protected Areas to protect wildlife and their habitats from damaging activities.

Joan Edwards, head of marine policy for The Wildlife Trusts, said:  “Much of the North Sea remains unexplored.  Each year the demands on the sea’s eco-systems increase but the protection stays the same – very little.

“Damaging activities, such as dredging, industrial fishing and pollution plus coastal degradation and climate change all play a part in threatening the sea’s health.  We want to raise awareness of the North Sea and what it has to offer.  We want its marine life to recover.  We want to see the Marine and Coastal Access Bill set up a network of marine protected areas (MPAs) by 2012.  This will give our seas the chance to return to the richness they once had.”
Within Living Seas, marine wildlife thrives, from the depths of the ocean to the coastal shallows. In Living Seas:
• Wildlife and habitats are recovering from past decline as our use of the seas’ resources becomes environmentally sustainable.
• The natural environment is adapting well to a changing climate, and ocean processes are helping to slow down climate change.
• People are inspired by marine wildlife and value the sea for the many ways in which it supports our quality of life.
The Wildlife Trusts believe it is possible to achieve Living Seas around the UK within 20 years – a single generation – but only if opportunities are seized now to make radical changes over the next five years. We urgently need your help to bring back the UK’s Living Seas, seas teeming with colour and life. Whether you live inland or by the coast, speak up for the silent world, learn about your local marine life or find out what you can do to get involved. Visit www.northseawildlife.org.uk and learn about:
• North Sea wildlife
• The Wildlife Trusts’ marine work
• Living Seas campaign information
• Details of the Wildlife Trusts coastal reserves (including what wildlife you can see at them)
• Suggestions as to how you can get involved with your local marine environment
• As well as a long list of marine events happening across the East coast of the country.
So get online and join the fun!

End

Notes to editors:

For more details, please contact:

Kirsten Smith
Marine Advocacy Officer (North Sea)
Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, 1 St George’s Place, York, YO24 1GN
(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
http://www.ywt.org.uk
Tel 01904 659570

The Wildlife Trusts have been campaigning for 10 years for new laws to provide stronger protection for marine life and better management of activities at sea. The introduction of a Marine and Coastal Access Bill to Parliament in December 2008 was a major campaign milestone.

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