© Mark Thomas
Our North Sea is amazing. If we change the way we do things we can help it to recover and ensure that our marine wildlife thrives so that future generations can enjoy our marine heritage. Please be part of it.
Most of us instinctively recognise how important the North Sea is for this region; for tourism; for food; for local recreation and increasingly, for energy. But we still know so little about it. Perhaps it’s to do with its sheer vastness, the mobility of many species and the fact that most of its treasures are totally hidden.
Worryingly, recent research from Natural England suggests that:
44% of the population think that the undersea is utterly, generally, or mostly barren in their region with Northerners describing ‘their’ sea as dirtier and colder than the rest of the country.
That’s quite a barrier to overcome in communicating about marine wildlife!
No wonder people feel apathetic or unmoved. Yes, there are issues with pollution, sustainable fishing, climate change impacts and invasive species, but the truth is that beneath the waves lies a magical marine kingdom just as colourful, fascinating and beautiful as that found anywhere else in the world!
Inspiring people is surely the way to encourage them to care?
And we have a great opportunity to do just that. The Esmée Fairbairn Foundation is the main funder of a three-year Living Seas programme to help us create awareness of how special our local marine landscape is. It aims to educate, inspire and involve communities in protecting our seas by changing attitudes and behaviours, encouraging us all to make a difference where we can. The project will :-
Develop a series of educational activities and events to widen awareness of the richness of the North Sea marine environment amongst users and ways we can minimise our impact.
Work with volunteers to undertake survey work (e.g. intertidal environments, marine mammal recording), beach clean-ups and campaigning.
Campaign for a proper network of Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) to ensure that the extraordinary diversity of species and habitats in our seas gets real protection.
Create the next generation of marine conservationists by supporting research, student work placements and training a network of people to be able to identify, manage and monitor wildlife.
Forge relationships and share knowledge with partners such as local fishing communities, Universities, Northumberland Inshore Fisheries Conservation Authority, Berwickshire and North Northumberland European Marine Site, Marinelife, and other Wildlife Trusts.
Turning the tide? Recent progress:
In November 2013, 27 out of 127 recommended Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) were designated, 3 of these are found off the Northumberland Coast. In addition an extra 3 have now been identified for potential designation in 2015, including the Coquet to St Mary’s zone.
We have been able to undertake vital survey work regarding populations of white-beaked dolphin, number of seal deaths etc.
We supported Newcastle University’s Big Sea Survey which recruited 357 ‘citizen scientists’ to provide robust information about the state of our local coastline.
We have been able to support the work of partner organisations such as British Divers Marine Life Rescue.
We engaged consultants to undertake a feasibility study into the provision of artificial nesting areas for kittiwakes on the Tyne.
Can you help take action for nature in your local area?
By giving to our Living Seas Appeal you can help to create a thriving marine haven for wildlife and people. This programme is only part-funded and we need to raise a match of £15,000 per year for the next two years.
Please would you help us with a donation? It’s a way of investing in the future and valuing nature - whatever you can give will make a difference.
There will, of course, be plenty of other opportunities to get involved such as beach cleaning, surveying, becoming a local ‘Sea Champion’ and supporting sustainable seafood - keep up-to-date with our Living Seas programme.