U.K. Sea Habitat at Risk , Needs Protection, WWF Says

U.K. Sea Habitat at Risk , Needs Protection, WWF Says (Update1)
Jan. 18 (Bloomberg) — The U.K.’s marine environment requires legal protection to halt a decline in many of its species and habitats, the WWF said.

All six of the U.K. sea habitats studied by its scientists were being destroyed, the Gland, Switzerland-based conservation group said in a report. Of 10 species assessed, only three had stable population levels.

“The plight of the U.K. seas has worsened” since the WWF conducted its first Marine Health Check five years ago, Jan Brown, a WWF senior marine policy officer based in Godalming, southeast England, said in an e-mailed statement. “Our marine heritage is in a shameful state for a maritime nation.”

Concern that fish stocks are dwindling has pushed marine conservation onto the U.K. political agenda. Prime Minister Tony Blair’s Strategy Unit estimates that half of the fish landed by the U.K. fleet come from stocks that are either unsustainable or borderline. Fisheries Minister Ben Bradshaw last month rejected a call by the U.K.’s Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution to close 30 percent of the nation’s coastal waters to commercial fishing.

“The government accepts that more needs to be done to better manage and protect our seas,” the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said in an e-mailed statement. To this end, Defra said it will introduce into the next Parliament a Marine Bill, and will publish its own “State of the Seas” report “in the next couple of months.”

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