Nature 2030: A Plan for the Marine Environment

Wildlife and Countryside Link’s ‘minifestos’ are policy briefings which provide detail about how the five policy asks made by the Nature 2030 campaign could be applied to benefit different aspects of nature. This manifesto covers the marine environment.


The next Parliament will be a critical turning point for the marine environment. In 2022, the UK signed a global agreement to halt and reverse the loss of wildlife and manage 30% of the land and sea for nature by 2030. In England, that promise is backed by legal duties to recover Marine Protected Areas and to stop the decline of species by the end of the next Parliament. These targets are not easy to meet.

Our seas are facing unprecedented pressures which demand urgent action to safeguard marine life. A combination of continued bottom trawling and overfishing, and recent record UK sea temperatures of 4-5°C above average have placed extreme pressure on sealife. Government assessments continue to show that the majority of our Marine Protected Areas are in an unfavourable condition.

This forms part of an ongoing failure to protect our most iconic wild marine species such as seals, seahorses and dolphins, as well as rare and vulnerable marine habitats such as cold- water coral reefs and seagrass beds. This is a failure of environmental stewardship as well as impacting our economy and vulnerable coastal communities. The Office for National Statistics estimates that UK marine natural capital assets currently have a value of £211 billion, which includes the value of significant marine carbon sequestration; this value is at risk while the state of the marine environment continues to deteriorate.

Our message to all parties is that nature and climate targets are not ‘nice-to-haves’: on land and sea alike they are essential to maintain a habitable planet, rich in wildlife, with a viable, functioning global economy. Immediate action is essential. Nature 2030 is a challenge to all political parties to take action, proposing five ambitious policies to get Government back on track to meet the targets and restore biodiversity. For the marine environment, this means:

  • A Pay Rise for Nature: Ensuring sufficient resources for effective monitoring and management of marine and coastal environments.
  • A Nature Recovery Obligation: Driving reductions in harm caused to the sea by developers and other marine industries.
  • A 30 by 30 Rapid Delivery Project: Safeguarding sea life through a stronger, coherent Marine Protected Area network where bottom trawling is restricted, delivering new Highly Protected Marine Areas, and setting catch limits in line with or below the independent scientific advice provided by ICES.
  • A National Nature Service: Equipping sufficient people with the skills and funding needed to create, manage and restore blue carbon habitats.
  • A Right to a Healthy Environment: Ensuring clean water is firmly at the heart of decision-making, from planning to permits, driven by a new legal right to healthy, high quality blue spaces.This is the UK’s opportunity to create a better state of nature. Our seas and their wildlife cannot wait.

The full manifesto can be read below