Consultation: Environment Agency to tackle decline in salmon population

(Posted 20 September 2017)

The Environment Agency (EA) is calling on anglers and netsmen to have their say on potential salmon rod and net limitations through an initial consultation launched recently. The consultation aims to understand how the EA can better manage salmon fishing in England and the Border Esk in order to reduce the impact on salmon stocks, which are currently among the lowest on record. It will also look at the impact that any restrictions could have on those whose livelihoods and interests depend on salmon.

The initial consultation runs until Monday 9 October 2017 and invites anglers, netsmen, fishery managers and the public to give their views and to help shape the future of salmon stocks in England and the Border Esk. The results will then be used to issue a formal consultation later this year.

Salmon stocks across the Atlantic are challenged by a number of factors including marine survival and barriers to migration. The EA is working with partners on a programme of action to restore salmon stocks throughout England. The EA, the government, Angling Trust, Rivers Trust, Atlantic Salmon Trust, Salmon and Trout Conservation UK, Wild Trout Trust and Institute of Fisheries Management have formed a working partnership in order to address this issue. This programme is called the Salmon Five Point Approach and sets out the actions to address the key pressures that affect the different life stages of salmon.

Read more here

To take part in the consultation click here


Taking Forward Wales’ Sustainable Management of Natural Resources – Consultation

(Posted 20 September 2017)

The Welsh government are consulting on a number of proposals which seek to further deliver their commitment to manage their natural resources more sustainably to deliver lasting economic, social and cultural, as well as environmental benefits, to ensure the continued prosperity of Wales. This consultation seeks views about these proposals and will help inform whether new legislation is required to take forward these proposals.

The proposals under consideration are presented in two themes which provide different mechanisms for unlocking the added value better management of natural resources can provide. The two themes are:

  1. Optimising the economic, social and environmental benefits from natural resources by aligning forestry, designated landscapes and access to outdoors legislation to the sustainable management of natural resources.
  2. Achieving better and smarter regulation by presenting a package of reforms aimed at providing mechanisms which contribute to ensuring that natural resources are managed in a way which contributes to economic growth, social equality and maintains and enhances ecosystem resilience.

Proposals relate to:

  • Management of marine and fisheries
  • Drainage and water infrastructure
  • Waste and local environmental quality
  • Introduction of smarter regulation.

Access the consultation here

Responses were required by 13 September 2017


Public consultation investigating options for reducing releases of microplastics to the environment

(Posted 20 September 2017)

The European Commission is launching this consultation to collect the views of stakeholders and citizens with regard to the policy options to reduce microplastics entering the marine environment. A report, to be published at the end of 2017, will set out the conclusions from the public consultation and recommendations from the study. Further information on the project that this consultation is supporting can be found at

All citizens and organizations are welcome to contribute to this consultation. This consultation closes on 16 October 2017. You can contribute to this public consultation by filling out the online questionnaire.


EU public consultation on pharmaceuticals in the environment

(Posted 20 September 2017)

The European Commission published a proposed ‘roadmap’ for a ‘Strategic approach to pharmaceuticals in the environment’, which was open for public comment until 26 May 2017. The three-page document specifies the relevant EU regulatory framework, in particular pharmacovigilance, and proposes to address particularly pharmaceuticals in water but also pharmaceuticals in soil as specified by pharmacovigilance.

The Commission estimates that EU pharmaceutical consumption doubled from 1990 to 2000 and doubled again from 2000 to 2012. The main objectives proposed are to identify knowledge gaps and solution to fill these, and to protect the environment whilst safeguarding access to effective and appropriate pharmaceutical treatments for humans and animals. Uncertainty about levels of pharmaceuticals in the environment and need for risk assessment are underlined.



Banning the use of microbeads in cosmetics and personal care products

(Posted 20 September 2017)

Defra wanted to know what you think about their plans to ban the manufacture and sale of cosmetics and personal care products containing microbeads. They were also looking for evidence of the effect of other sources of microplastics on the marine environment. This will inform future UK actions to protect the marine environment.

This consultation has now closed. Defra received 431 responses and their summary of responses document outlines what they will be doing next.

See the responses document here


Invasive non-native species – draft code of practice for the use of species control provisions in England

(Posted 20 September 2017)

Defra wanted to know your thoughts about their draft code of practice which sets out how they will use new controls on invasive non-native species. These new powers – known as species control provisions – allow Defra and its agencies to require owners to take action against invasive non-native species. If an owner has refused to act or allow access, it also allows them to take action.

This consultation has now closed and the summary of responses and the government’s response can be seen here



International protection for one of the UK’s largest areas for seabirds

(Posted 20 September 2017)

A section of Northumberland coastline supporting 200,000 seabirds gets greater protection. The newly designated Northumberland Marine Special Protection Area (SPA) stretches 12 miles from the coastline into the North Sea.

It’s the most important site in the UK for Arctic, common and roseate terns, the second most important site for sandwich tern, and the third most important site for Atlantic puffin. International designation will help ensure any disturbance to the birds’ essential open water feeding areas is minimised, so the birds have a safe space to feed in. It builds on the protection already afforded to important breeding sites via the network of SPAs at Coquet Island, Farne Islands, Lindisfarne and Northumbria Coast.

Along with the new Northumberland Marine SPA, Natural England also announced extensions to Hamford Water SPA in Essex and Morecambe Bay and Duddon Estuary SPA in Cumbria. This gives international protection to feeding habitats for over 425,000 seabirds for the first time.

Read more here


WaterLIFE – resources and learnings

(Posted 20 September 2017)

Three years of WaterLIFE research and delivery has produced a wealth of guidance, reports, findings, films, case studies and learnings. To communicate and disseminate these materials, WaterLIFE legacy pages have benn placed into the website of the Catchment Based Approach. A narrative guides users to almost 40 downloadable resources across three themed areas: engaging local communities in river health; engaging business in the water environment; and influencing decision-makers and legislation.

The WaterLIFE project, which ran from 2014 to 2017, sought to tackle some of the big issues hindering our rivers from being classed as healthy, such as over-abstraction, pollution and unsustainable management. WaterLIFE worked in five demonstration catchments across England and Wales. In three catchments – Soar, Camlad and Tamar – WaterLIFE worked with individuals and community groups to strengthen their understanding and awareness, enabling them to fully engage and helping to improve their rivers. In the remaining two catchments – Broadland Rivers and Cam and Ely Ouse – WaterLIFE worked to secure business commitment to the water stewardship approach.



Natural Course – new video launched

(Posted 20 September 2017)

The EU Life programme has developed four films about their Integrated Projects taking place across the EU and the first to be published is about the EU Life Integrated Project Natural Course.

The film demonstrates how the project is building new partnerships to improve water quality throughout the north-west of England. Natural Course is a collaboration between the Environment Agency, The Rivers Trust, Greater Manchester Combined Authority, United Utilities and Natural England.


Decline in percentage of water bodies awarded high or good surface water status from 2011–2016

(Posted 20 September 2017)

There was a decrease in the percentage of water bodies awarded high or good surface water status between 2011 and 2016. In 2016, 16% of surface water bodies assessed under the WFD in England were in high or good status compared to 24% in 2011. In 2016 England adopted the new WFD monitoring and classification standards laid out in cycle 2 of WFD which may in part explain the step change in classifications.

Read the report here


North Sea cod certified as sustainable

(Posted 20 September 2017)

Over a decade since North Sea cod stocks came close to collapse, shoppers and diners can finally buy the popular fish with a clear conscience following the announcement that Scottish and English cod boats, which are members of the Scottish Fisheries Sustainable Accreditation Group, are now MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) certified.

Thanks to the enormous efforts of a coalition of fishing organisations with support from supermarkets, seafood brands and the industry body, Seafish, North Sea cod has passed an independent assessment against the MSC’s strict standard. The news means that – subject to strict traceability requirements – North Sea cod can now be sold in supermarkets and restaurants bearing the MSC ‘blue tick’ label, indicating that it is sustainable and fully traceable.

The announcement marks a momentous achievement for the industry. Cod stocks in the North Sea peaked at 270,000 tonnes in the 1970s, when North Sea cod was widely sold and enjoyed. However, stocks fell to just 44,000 tonnes in 2006. Since then the industry has worked with the Scottish Government and EU Fisheries Council to agree and implement a ‘Cod Recovery Plan’ that would nurse the stock back to health. The certification follows a huge effort by industry, processors and NGOs to bring the cod stock back to sustainable levels.

Read more here


A framework for a sustainable future for finfish aquaculture in Scotland

(Posted 20 September 2017)

Globally, our oceans are under stress. This was powerfully emphasised at the recent United Nations Ocean Conference in New York.  One of the many pressures on our marine environment is the harvesting of wild fish stocks.  Aquaculture, including caged fish farming, represents one way to reduce this pressure, but only if it’s done well. If done poorly, it can also cause damage to the marine environment.

SEPA’s role is to ensure that aquaculture in Scotland’s marine environment operates responsibly and with minimum environmental impact. So they intend to modernise and strengthen the way they regulate finfish aquaculture. In brief, they want to help create a world-class finfish aquaculture sector in Scotland by:

  • Minimising the risks to Scotland’s environment from existing and future farms.
  • Ensuring all finfish farm operations reach and maintain full regulatory compliance.
  • As far as possible, help operators to voluntarily improve their environmental performance beyond compliance standards.

Read more here


Environment Secretary pledges action on ocean plastics

(Posted 20 September 2017)

Environment Secretary Michael Gove pledged action to reduce plastic waste choking our oceans as he set out his ambition for the UK to lead the world in environmental protection.

Around eight million tonnes of plastic makes its way into oceans each year, posing a serious threat to our natural and marine environment – experts estimate plastic is ingested by 31 species of marine mammals and over 100 species of sea birds.

As new figures published recently revealed more than nine billion fewer plastic bags were used since the government introduced a 5p charge, an 83 per cent reduction, the Environment Secretary set out further plans to prevent other sources of plastic finding their way into our oceans and seas. Mr Gove confirmed legislation will be introduced this year to ban the sale and manufacture of microbeads – tiny pieces of plastic that are easily swallowed by marine life – in cosmetics and personal care products such as toothpastes and shower gels.


Environment Agency’s efforts see Norfolk’s eel population boosted

(Posted 20 September 2017)

Increased numbers of eels have been observed at a Norwich fish pass, as well as sightings further upstream on the River Tud, the first to be found in that location for nearly 40 years.

The global eel population has dropped dramatically over the past 40 years, with numbers down by as much as 95%. Whilst there are thought to be many reasons for this decline, barriers to upstream migration are one that we can do something about.

In Norfolk barriers include tidal sluices, weirs and mills. Eel passes are helping the Environment Agency ensure that the population can be restored and stabilised. The status of the European eel is still regarded as ‘critical’ and the Environment Agency is creating passes at several key obstruction locations on Norfolk Rivers.

To read more plus Factfile: Lifecycle of eels, click here


How to watch dolphins and other marine wildlife responsibly

(Posted 20 September 2017)

Conservation charities, boating organisations and law enforcement agencies call for responsible behaviour in watching marine wildlife. As large numbers of visitors flock to the Cornish coast, the Cornwall Marine and Coastal Code Group is sending out a timely reminder on how to responsibly enjoy watching marine wildlife such as dolphins and basking sharks.

The species most often affected are seabirds and seals as they come on to land to rest, but dolphins and basking sharks close to shore will quickly attract a lot of attention, making them vulnerable to overcrowding or being chased and can lead to accidents. Full guidelines can be found on the Cornwall Wildlife Trustメs website.

The Green Blue, the joint environment campaign run by the Royal Yachting Association and British Marine, has worked with other organisations including the MMO to produce The Green Wildlife Guide for Boaters. This advises boaters on how to get the best experience out of their wildlife encounters by acting responsibly and cautiously to minimize the risk of disturbance while keeping participants and their boats safe. The guide is available online or a hard copy can be obtained by emailing


Threatened native species finds safety in Lincolnshire

(Posted 20 September 2017)

Refuges have been set up in the county for the country's only native species of crayfish. Efforts to protect the endangered white-clawed crayfish have seen almost 600 specimens moved to protected new homes in Lincolnshire.

Known as ‘Ark Sites’, the carefully selected refuges have all the characteristics needed for the crayfish to establish a thriving colony, including good-quality water, suitable habitat, and an isolated location. Most importantly, they will be safe from the threat of their non-native counterparts, the North American Signal crayfish. This invasive species out-competes our own for food and habitat, and carries a fungal disease that devastates native populations.

In Lincolnshire, the Upper Witham has long been a stronghold for native crayfish, but they are increasingly under threat from Signals. In total, 572 specimens were moved into two undisclosed locations in Lincolnshire two weeks ago: a limestone stream in the county’s south west and a chalk stream in the Wolds.


Schemes across the country to receive £15 million of natural flood management funding

(Posted 20 September 2017)

New allocations of flood management funding will allow homes, businesses and communities around the country to benefit from increased flood protection.

34 community-led projects have been named as winners of a £1m government-funded competition, the first of its kind, and will now be able to realise their innovative plans to use landscape features such as ponds, banks, meanders, channels, and trees to store, drain or slow flood water.

24 other catchment-scale projects have also been allocated funding to develop larger scale projects which will benefit wider areas; with Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Cheshire and Wolsingham all receiving over £1m of funding.

Read more here


Water Framework Directive assessment: estuarine and coastal waters

(Posted 20 September 2017)

This guidance tells you how to assess the impact of your activity in estuarine (transitional) and coastal waters for the Water Framework Directive (WFD). The guidance is called Clearing the Waters for All and covers activities in the marine environment up to 1 nautical mile out to sea.

Many activities need approval before they can go ahead. You must provide a Water Framework Directive (WFD) assessment as part of your application to the public body that regulates and grants permissions for your activity. A WFD assessment helps you and your regulator understand:

  • the impact your activity may have on the immediate water body and any linked water bodies
  • whether your activity complies with the river basin management plan (RBMP).

Every water body has a status. The current status is set out in the 2015 RBMPs. It is based on the condition of different quality elements in the water body, eg biology. The WFD aim is for all water bodies to be at good status. In a WFD assessment you must show if your activity will:

  • cause or contribute to deterioration of status
  • jeopardise the water body achieving good status.

This guidance updates and replaces Clearing the Waters, the previous WFD guidance for dredging and disposal activities in estuarine and coastal waters.


Bathing waters: list of designated waters in England

(Posted 20 September 2017)

List of designated bathing waters for the 2017 bathing season, 15 May to 30 September.

Click here to see the list


Water companies make environmental improvements but Environment Agency urges more action

(Posted 20 September 2017)

The majority of the UK’s water companies achieved close to, or exceeded, targets set to improve water quality, according to a new report published by the Environment Agency (EA).

Wessex Water and United Utilities were the top performing water companies, repeating last year’s success. In a year when the EA introduced tougher standards, water companies made good progress in meeting the new targets. However, the total number of pollution incidents increased by 160 in 2016, the first increase since 2012. While water companies continue to improve their reporting of pollution to ensure impact can be minimised and wildlife protected downstream, the EA has urged some water companies to make significant improvements to bring down pollution levels.

2016 was the first year to see several million pound fines handed out by the courts to water companies for pollution incidents. March 2017 saw the record £20 m fine of Thames water for sewage pollution offences over the period 2012–2014. Annual water and sewerage company environmental performance reports are available on GOV.UK.

Read more here


When will Defra’s 25-year Environment Plan be published?

(Posted 20 September 2017)

The 25-year government plan for the environment was first promised two years ago and had finally been expected in 2017, but officials told The Independent they now cannot guarantee it coming this year.

In 2015 the newly elected Conservative government pledged to produce a ’25-Year Environment Plan’ that would tackle pollution of land, water and air, save wildlife and reduce flooding among a host of other ambitious aims. However, publication of the plan – already a year overdue – may now not take place until next year with the new Environment Secretary apparently keen to put his own personal stamp on the document. A spokesperson from Mr Gove's department told The Independent: “I don’t have a timeframe for you on the 25-year plan as yet.”


Ratty returns: hundreds of water voles released in UK's biggest reintroduction

(Posted 20 September 2017)

The biggest reintroduction of water voles in the UK began in June, with 325 voles released into Kielder Forest in Northumberland, and 350 more to follow later in the summer.

The species has suffered catastrophic declines over several decades, driven by loss of habitat, the pollution of waterways, increased urbanisation, and rampant populations of American mink, originally farmed for their fur but which escaped into the wild and proved to be a voracious predator of the native vole. More than 90% of the water vole population across the UK has died out, making it the country’s fastest declining land mammal. Kielder Forest, more than 650 km2 in extent, was once a stronghold of the water vole, but none have been seen there in more than two decades, owing to the prevalence of mink.

By a curious quirk of conservation, ‘Ratty’ owes the reintroduction in the area to the revival of another water vole predator, the otter. Burgeoning otter populations in Kielder, generations of which have been carefully nurtured through conservation efforts, have displaced the rival mink, which tends not to share hunting grounds with otters. Eventually, it is hoped the animals will spread across the north Tyne catchment dominated by Kielder Forest, and into western Northumberland.

The Restoring Ratty project was funded with a grant of £421,000 over five years from the Heritage Lottery Fund, and is run by the Northumberland Wildlife Trust, the Forestry Commission and Tyne Rivers Trust.

Read more here


Michael Gove appointed as Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

(Posted 20 September 2017)

The Secretary of State has overall responsibility for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Specific responsibilities include:

  • oversight of EU exit work and the overall policy programme
  • international relations
  • emergencies
  • departmental administration


Collaborative Catchment Management – Interactive Guide

(Posted 20 September 2017)

The Catchment Based Approach support team know that building partnerships can be a real struggle, and that's why they've created an interactive guide to point you in the right direction of where to start. From partnership building to catchment planning, this will guide you through the catchment management process, step by step.  

To access the interactive guide click here


UK takes key step towards fair new fishing policy after Brexit

(Posted 20 September 2017)

Defra press release:
The Government has announced it will withdraw from the London Fisheries Convention. The London Fisheries Convention, signed in 1964 before the UK joined the European Union, allows vessels from five European countries to fish within six and 12 nautical miles of the UK’s coastline. It sits alongside the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), which allows all European vessels access between 12 and 200 nautical miles of the UK and sets quotas for how much fish each nation can catch.

The UK has now notified the other Member States signed up to the London Fisheries Convention, triggering a two-year withdrawal period – in a similar way to the Article 50 letter which began a two-year withdrawal from the EU. When we leave the EU, we will no longer be bound by the Common Fisheries Policy but without action, restrictions under the historic London Fisheries Convention would still apply. By withdrawing from the London Fisheries Convention we will no longer be bound by the existing access agreements.

In the coming months and years, the government will be working with the industry and marine scientists, as well as the devolved administrations, to preserve and increase fish stocks for their long-term sustainability, and secure prosperity for fishermen across the UK when we leave the European Union. Starting this summer, there will be a period of engagement on the Fisheries Bill with the devolved administrations, fishermen, trade organisations, fish processors and the public to make sure we deliver a deal that works for the whole of the UK.

Read the full press release here


8,000 young fish released into the River Rother

(Posted 20 September 2017)

The Environment Agency has released 8,000 young grayling into the River Rother at Chesterfield to help fish populations recover from historical pollution. This release is part of a five-year restocking programme that is helping to restore the river’s ecology to how it was before the industrial revolution. The young fish were reared at the Environment Agency’s fish farm near Calverton using funding from rod licence sales.

Anyone who wants to help improve Chesterfield’s rivers and the health of fish stocks could contribute by getting involved with the Wild Trout Trust’s ‘Trout in the Town’ scheme. This is a programme to help urban communities engage with, and care for, their local streams and rivers. In addition to caring generally for the river, groups often carry out invertebrate monitoring, and habitat improvement work. The Trust can help out with training for that habitat improvement work and provide support with fundraising. More information on ‘Trout in the Town’ projects can be found at


New look Scotland’s environment website now live 

(Posted 20 September 2017)

Scotland’s environment website brings together environmental information and data in one place so that it is easy to search, discover, view, analyse and interpret. The new website has been designed and developed following discussion and feedback with users, to find out what they want and need from this online resource. It’s still a work in progress but in this first phase release you’ll find new designs, functionality and content. New features include quick links to key applications and pages, new navigation based on how users search, and a new Map tool that allows you to search for data by keyword, topic or organisations that produce data. See Scotland’s environment website.

Not all of the current website content and data has been added to the beta website but development will continue over the summer months, in time for a full release in early autumn this year. The current website continues to run during the beta phase.

Find out more about the new features of beta version of Scotland’s environment website and planned developments.


Tesco hit with major £8 million fine for pollution incident

(Posted 20 September 2017)

The incident, which occurred in July 2014, sparked a huge multi-agency operation involving the Environment Agency, Lancashire County Council, United Utilities, Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service and Lancashire Police. Approximately 23,500 litres of petrol escaped from a petrol filling tank at a petrol station in Haslingden, Lancashire, operated by Tesco. It had a massive impact on the local community and environment with residents having to leave their homes due to petrol odours coming from the sewer network. Some of the petrol also entered Langwood Brook and the River Irwell causing a significant environmental impact killing fish and other aquatic life.

The investigation found that the incident resulted from Tesco’s failure to address a known issue with part of the fuel delivery system and an inadequate alarm system and was compounded by poor emergency procedures. Tesco were fined a total of £8 million – £5 m for the health and safety offence and £3 m for the environmental offence.



EU Environmental Implementation Review Country Report on 28 Member States

(Posted 20 September 2017)

The Commission reports that in water quality and management most Member States are struggling to reach full compliance on collection and treatment of urban wastewater, and 13 face EU legal action. Nitrates concentrations and eutrophication levels remain a serious issue in nearly all Member States.

For the UK there are four main issues:

  • tackling water quality, notably agricultural pollution (nitrates)
  • tackling urban waste water issues such as storm water overflows
  • improving air quality in urban areas
  • completing the Natura 2000 designation process for marine sites.

The main pressure on UK surface waters is diffuse pollution which affects 68% of water bodies. Flow regulation and morphological alterations affect 45%, followed by point sources of pollution that affect 44% of water bodies. River management negatively affects 30% of water bodies and abstraction affects 14% of water bodies.

Source of information:

See the report here:


Statistics about fishing in the UK and beyond

(Posted 20 September 2017)

Following the decision to leave the EU, the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) has seen an increase in the number of people and organisations asking for statistics about fishing activity in UK and EU waters.

The MMO have put together this round-up of the questions they are commonly asked, and provide links to where you can already find the relevant information online.

To learn more click here


Sky Ocean Rescue

(Posted 20 September 2017)

The entertainment company, Sky, is looking at everything they do that impacts the oceans, from designing their products with less material, to ensuring their products are recycled. Removing all single-use plastics is a significant step they are looking to take. They report that they have made a good start by removing all plastic water bottles, plastic cups, straws, and their cutlery is made from cornstarch. They also plan to look at their supply chain and the products they make.


Survey on Protection of Water Catchment Areas in Europe

(Posted 20 September 2017)

With the support of the French Agency for Biodiversity, and in partnership with the International Network of Basin Organizations (INBO), the International Office for Water (IOW) intends to put online a web portal dedicated to the best practices implemented in the European Union regarding drinking water catchments’ protection and fight against diffuse pollution in these areas. This portal intends to stimulate a better networking between stakeholders involved in this activity, centralize best practices, and disseminate resources (data, documentation, etc) with the objective of creating an efficient community of European actors.

In France, drinking water catchments are protected against diffuse pollution thanks to actions engaged in the whole catchment area and within a very precise legal framework. To provide different and attractive approaches, IOW would like to collect examples of operations of drinking water catchment protection (fight against diffuse pollution) in the other EU Member States.

During the next Europe-INBO 2017 international conference in Dublin from in September 2017, a presentation of these success stories will be made. Locally engaged people are welcomed to participate in this European event.

For any questions concerning this survey contact:

Access the survey at:


UK takes centre stage in global marine protection

(Posted 20 September 2017)

The UK and Ireland recently co-hosted the annual meeting of OSPAR (an international convention to protect the marine environment of the north-east Atlantic). Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey set out how the UK continues to play a leading role in protecting the world’s oceans and turning the tide on marine litter. She outlined how the UK is leading international efforts to tackle plastic pollution, protect marine species and habitats, and support cutting-edge marine science.

Earlier this month the UK made a number of voluntary commitments at the first-ever United Nations Ocean Conference in New York. These include joining the UN’s Clean Seas campaign to reduce the use of disposable plastic by 2022, strengthening global ocean observations, and working with Overseas Territories to protect the diverse range of marine life in their waters.

Through OSPAR, the UK and neighbouring countries have developed and are implementing a Regional Action Plan on marine litter. This covers 55 actions to address land-based and sea-based sources of litter, including education and awareness activities, marine monitoring, and removing litter that has already reached the marine environment.


Information Portal for the Celtic Seas – helping users find Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) relevant data and information

(Posted 20 September 2017)

The Celtic Seas Partnership project, a 4-year project part funded by EU LIFE+, ended in March 2017. The project’s aim was to draw people together from across the Celtic Seas to set up collaborative and innovative approaches to managing their marine environment. WWF-UK was the lead with partners the Natural Environment Research Council, SeaWeb Europe, the University of Liverpool and the Eastern and Midland Regional Assembly in Ireland.

The Celtic Seas, designated as one of the MSFD regions, includes parts of the open Atlantic west of Ireland and Scotland, shallow seas surrounded by land in the Irish Sea and west of Scotland, numerous sea lochs, and large estuaries like the Shannon, Severn and Solway Firth.

 A key output of the Partnership has been the development of a web-based information portal to provide access to data, metadata and documentation specifically relating to the MSFD.

Source of information: click here

Access the Celtic Seas site here:


EU country reports and common challenges

(Posted 20 September 2017)

The European Commission has published the first ever comprehensive overview of how EU environmental policies and laws are applied on the ground. This Environmental Implementation Review shows that environmental policies work, but that there are big gaps in how these rules and policies are put into practice across Europe. The most pressing implementation gaps across EU Member States are found in the policy fields of waste management, nature and biodiversity, air quality, noise and water quality and management.

The European Implementation Review package includes:

  • 28 country reports which map national strengths, opportunities and weaknesses.
  • An Annex identifying common challenges across countries and how to combine efforts to deliver better results. The Annex summarises suggested actions for improvement for all EU Member States.



Future of the sea: ocean acidification

(Posted 20 September 2017)

This report summarises evidence of the changes to, and drivers of, ocean acidification. It explores the current and future impacts of acidification on:

  • marine life and environmental conservation
  • the UK fisheries and aquaculture industries
  • future research needs.


Future of the sea: biological responses to ocean warming

(Posted 20 September 2017)

This report summarises evidence of changing sea temperatures. It explores the current and future impacts of this on:

  • marine life
  • the UK fisheries and aquaculture industries
  • environmental conservation, including the UK’s marine protected area network.

It was commissioned as part of the Foresight Future of the sea project.

Source of information: click here


Future of the sea: implications from opening Arctic Sea routes

(Posted 20 September 2017)

This report summarises the evidence for the projected loss of Arctic sea ice and the opening of shipping routes due to climate change. It explores how these changes will make trans-Arctic shipping routes more navigable and profitable, and explores the resulting challenges and opportunities for the UK.

It was commissioned as part of the Foresight Future of the sea project.

Source of information: click here


Future of the sea: plastic pollution

(Posted 20 September 2017)

This report summarises evidence on marine plastic pollution in the UK, its overseas territories and the global oceans. It explores:

  • what causes plastic pollution
  • how plastic pollution impacts the UK’s marine life, marine industries and human health
  • how plastic pollution will change in the future

It was commissioned as part of the Foresight Future of the sea project.

Source of information: click here


Future of the sea: trends in aquaculture

(Posted 20 September 2017)

This report summarises the evidence for current and future trends in the UK aquaculture sector. It explores:

  • the current state of the industry
  • the challenges and opportunities for growth
  • drivers of change including climate change, costs of production, and technological advancements
  • scenarios for the future development of the sector.

It was commissioned as part of the Foresight Future of the sea project.

Source of information: click here


Using ecosystem engineers as tools in habitat restoration and rewilding: beaver and wetlands

(Posted 20 September 2017)

Potential for habitat restoration is increasingly used as an argument for reintroducing ecosystem engineers. Beaver have well known effects on hydromorphology through dam construction, but their scope to restore wetland biodiversity in areas degraded by agriculture is largely inferred. This study presents the first formal monitoring of a planned beaver-assisted restoration, focussing on changes in vegetation over 12 years within an agriculturally-degraded fen following beaver release, based on repeated sampling of fixed plots. Effects are compared to ungrazed exclosures which allowed the wider influence of waterlogging to be separated from disturbance through tree felling and herbivory.

After 12 years of beaver presence, mean plant species richness had increased on average by 46% per plot, whilst the cumulative number of species recorded increased on average by 148%. Plants associated with high moisture and light conditions increased significantly in coverage, whereas species indicative of high nitrogen decreased.

This article was published in Science of the Total Environment. Access the PDF here


Mystery of birds’ movements at sea solved

(Posted 20 September 2017)

New research reveals unprecedented insights into where British and Irish breeding seabirds go when they're not on land, providing critical information to inform future management of UK seas post-Brexit.

The five year project GPS-tracked over 1300 breeding seabirds of four species from a number of colonies in Britain and Ireland allowing conservationists to predict where seabirds from all of the region's colonies go to find food. The new maps will be used to assess potential impacts from offshore wind farms, pollution and other human activities on breeding seabirds, helping to protect these threatened species.

Read more here


Study suggests anaerobic digestion may reduce microplastics in sewage sludge

(Posted 20 September 2017)

European policy permits the application of nutrient-rich sewage sludge on agricultural land as a means of recycling. However, contamination of sludge with microplastics may pose a risk to ecosystems. This study looked at the characteristics of microplastics in sewage sludge after three types of wastewater treatment, finding that anaerobic digestion should be explored as a method of microplastic reduction.

To read more click here



The Drip – a Watery Tale

(Posted 20 September 2017)

This engaging five-minute animation interprets the natural water cycle and other important areas of aquatic science and geography. The film was commissioned by the South Devon AONB on behalf of the South Devon Catchments Partnership (co-hosted by the Westcountry Rivers Trust) using Catchment Based Approach funding from the Environment Agency.


Defra Annual Report 2016–17

(Posted 20 September 2017)

With almost all of Defra’s areas of responsibility framed by EU legislation, they are one of the Departments most affected by the exit from the EU. Defra is a key player within government in negotiations on the withdrawal agreement and future partnership with the EU; in future trade agreements; in border planning; and in agreeing future arrangements with the devolved nations.

Near-term challenges of managing the exit process are matched by longer term opportunities for reform. These range from creating new frameworks for supporting food production and stewardship of the countryside to building on high standards of animal welfare and developing a new regime for commercial fishing.

Read the report here


10 years, 28 partners…what MCCIP learned about marine climate change

(Posted 20 September 2017)

In 2006, a partnership of UK scientists, government, agencies and non-governmental organisations established the Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership (MCCIP); a group formed to bring together the UK’s expertise across marine and climate science. A decade later, MCCIP has just published its eighth marine climate change impacts report card.

See the report here

Source of information:


Future of the sea: industry perspectives on emerging technology

(Posted 20 September 2017)

This document summarises findings from interviews with 11 leading companies who are each exploring an emerging theme or trend that will shape the future relationship between the nation and the sea. It then presents an analysis of the specific opportunities and challenges for the UK, based on the views expressed in the interviews.

This research was completed by the Government Office for Science, as part of the ‘Foresight Future of the sea’ project.


Over half of chalk streams and a quarter of rivers in England currently at risk due to poor water management and usage (WWF report)

(Posted 20 September 2017)

With parts of the UK facing drought after a winter of low rainfall, a new report by WWF finds that so much water is being taken out of rivers and groundwater for public supplies and agriculture that the environment and economy is facing critical long-term damage. More than 550 bodies of water in England and Wales are being over-abstracted, affecting iconic rivers such as the Itchen and urban chalk streams like the Cray, which have seen their flow decrease and turn to trickles, according to new ‘Freedom of Information’ requests by WWF.

Case studies cited include the Rivers Chess, Itchen, and Ouse.

Read more here


River Restoration Factsheets

(Posted 20 September 2017)

These free to download factsheets aim to provide an overview of things to consider when planning, implementing and evaluating river restoration projects.

New factsheets include:

  • Understanding your river – download here
  • River restoration in urban areas – download here
  • River restoration in rural areas – download here

There is also a new video on ‘What is river restoration?’
View here:



CaBA Conference in Manchester (10 July 2017)

(Posted 20 September 2017)

The Catchment Based Approach annual conference covered subjects such as Working with CaBA partnerships in the North West, Water Stewardship service: sustainable solutions for business, Quantifying the Multiple Environmental Impacts of Reintroducing the Eurasian Beaver, and Natural Flood Risk Management Modelling Tool.

A slide share of the presentations is available here


Urban Rivers & Streams: assets or pollution pathways? (11 July 2017)

(Posted 20 September 2017)

The urban environment is where most people live, yet the quality of the water environment there has often been overlooked and urban watercourses either hidden from view behind walls or buried in culverts.

The aim of this conference was to set out the policy drivers, emerging trends and understanding on the scale of the problem and whether we are making progress. It focused on delivering cost effective practice using examples from the UK and abroad and how lessons can be translated into policy and investment, setting the agenda for affective action and collaboration. Topics covered included The Economics of SuDS and natural flood management, Unpicking pollution in urban catchments to make it more manageable, River Wandle Restoration Project, and Rivers and Lakes in European Cities: Past and future challenges.


The UN Oceans conference

(Posted 20 September 2017)

Our oceans, our future: partnering for the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14 (Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development)

This high-level United Nations Conference was held in New York from 5 to 9 June 2017, coinciding with World Oceans Day, to support the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14. The governments of Fiji and Sweden had the co-hosting responsibilities of the conference.

Read more here: