Selaine Saxby MP today led the World Ocean Day 2021 debate in Parliament. This morning the Government published the results of a survey revealing that 85% of people in England and Wales consider marine protection personally important to them, so this was an opportune moment to spend Parliamentary time on discussion over how the UK Government and the wider international community can best conserve our oceans.
The theme of this year’s United Nations World Ocean Day is “Life and Livelihood”, and so Ms. Saxby focused her speech on three key areas: Blue Carbon, sustainable fishing, and plastic reduction. As a Marine Conservation Society Blue Carbon Champion, Ms. Saxby works hard in Parliament to push for policies that recognise the vital role marine and coastal ecosystems play in tackling the climate crisis. For example, last month Ms. Saxby wrote to Lord Deben, Chair of the Climate Change Committee, to ask him to investigate the feasibility of integrating Blue Carbon into the Government’s carbon accounts.
Sustainable fishing is also a pertinent issue, particularly in North Devon where a significant part of the economy, and many of Ms. Saxby’s constituents’ livelihoods, is dependent on a ready and sustainable supply of fish off the North Devon coast. With 90% of big fish populations depleted globally, and 50% of coral reefs destroyed, more is being taken from the ocean than can be replenished, and so Ms. Saxby spoke about the importance of building a connection to the ocean that is inclusive, innovative, and informed by lessons from the past.
Ms. Saxby is known in North Devon for her frequent litter picks and beach cleans, and over last week and a half carried out her pledged 10 hours of litter picking for Keep Britain Tidy’s Great British Spring Clean. Ms. Saxby stressed to Parliamentary colleagues how she is horrified by the volume of plastics, microplastics, and nurdles that she sees on North Devon’s beautiful beaches, and that while efforts are made to pick up the visible bits, much of what goes on in our oceans is not visible. Ms. Saxby was one of the MPs to support Philip Dunne’s Sewage (Inland Waters) Bill and she is delighted to see so much of this now incorporated into the Government’s landmark Environment Bill, which yesterday passed its Second Reading in the House of Lords.
Ms. Saxby remains committed to doing all she can in Parliament to advocate for restoring our oceans and to optimising their link to our lives and livelihoods.