Marine experts: Public understanding and engagement key to healthy seas – Fishupdate.com

Marine experts: Public understanding and engagement key to healthy seas Published:  14 December, 2005

A REPORT recently published by The Wildlife Trusts includes a set of Action Plans that aim to improve public understanding of the marine environment. The report is the result of findings from a conference convened earlier in the year by The Wildlife Trusts, at which experts from more than 70 environmental organisations around the UK (including public bodies, non-government organisations, museums, universities, research institutions and marine industry) agreed that public understanding and engagement are vital to the sustainable management of our seas.

Lisa Browning, Marine Officer for The Wildlife Trusts, says:

“The Wildlife Trusts are at the forefront of marine awareness work in the UK, with pioneering projects such as Shoresearch, Seaquest and Beneath the Waves. We share with the other organisations a vision of healthy, productive seas that are valued by all. With Government drafting a Marine Bill, the management of our seas is currently at an all-time high on the political agenda. We want Government to realise the importance of involving the public in the future of our seas and to increase support for marine awareness initiatives, That is what this post-conference report aims to do.”

The report identifies eight key areas for discussion and develops an action plan for each. Under ‘Co-ordination between education providers’, for example, actions included pushing the Government to take a lead in marine awareness, and setting up a web-based portal through which education providers can locate and share resources and good practice. The ‘Formal education, schools and teachers’ action plan includes a commitment to encourage the integration of marine environmental topics into the National Curriculum.

The report concludes that a shared sense of ownership and responsibility, increased pressure on politicians and decision-makers to manage marine resources responsibly, and the expression of consumer choice in support of, for example, sustainably harvested seafood will make the difference in terms of protecting the marine environment.

The Working Group formed from the conference will meet again in the New Year to assess progress against the Action Plans, and there are plans for a follow-up conference in 2006/7.

The post-conference report is available to download at www.wildlifetrusts.org

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