I believe we are at a pivotal moment and we must take urgent action now to safeguard the world’s oceans and protect the precious wildlife that inhabit them. I am therefore pleased that in this vital year for the ocean, the UK will showcase global leadership in tackling key pressures facing the ocean through our COP26 and G7 Presidencies, and use our influence to advocate for greater action and global collaboration.
I welcome that the UK has accepted the position as Ocean Co-Chair of the High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People. Between this and the UK-led Global Ocean Alliance, there are now 80 countries supporting a target to protect at least 30 per cent of the global ocean by 2030, and Ministers are working to secure this target's adoption at the Convention on Biological Diversity Conference of Parties later this year where the post-2020 global biodiversity framework will be adopted.
Domestically, the UK Marine Strategy supports the vision for ‘clean, healthy, safe, productive and biologically diverse oceans and seas.’ I understand that Ministers are currently preparing an update to the UK Marine Strategy Part 3, outlining the programmes of measures that will continue to move the UK towards Good Environmental Status in its seas. Further, it is encouraging that 38 per cent of UK waters are in Marine Protected Areas, and I agree that these must be effectively protected. I am pleased that plans to increase protections for England’s waters through a pilot to designate marine sites as Highly Protected Marine Areas have now been launched. I understand that the selected sites would see a ban on all activities that could have a damaging effect on wildlife or marine habitats.
Finally, the UK is driving forward action to reduce plastic pollution in the ocean, through the Commonwealth Clean Ocean Alliance, a growing group of 34 Commonwealth member states. Ministers have also committed up to £70m to help developing countries to prevent plastic waste entering the ocean, and to a new £500m Blue Planet Fund, to help developing countries protect the ocean from key human-generated threats, including pollution.