Seabed mapping crucial to protect UK’s climate and oceans
Sally-Ann Hart, Member of Parliament (MP) speaking at the recent UK Centre of Seabed Mapping (UK CSM) showcase event in London, said that seabed mapping will play a crucial role in helping protect the UK’s climate, oceans and coastal communities.
In particular, Hart said building a community of maritime industry stakeholders that acquire, share and harness hydrographic data collaboratively, rather than working in isolation, was key to tackling climate change.
Whatever we do to help protect and preserve our climate, our oceans and our coastal communities, it is clear that seabed mapping is a critical part of the infrastructure we need.
As explained, the UK CSM was launched in 2022 to enable UK government organisations involved in seabed mapping to build a community where members coordinate efforts to collect and share data. This information is crucial to maritime trade, informing sustainable environmental and resource management decisions and supporting national security and infrastructure.
Hart said that climate change was a significant threat to the UK’s economy and well-being that could, if not managed properly, lead to devastating consequences such as rising sea levels, more frequent and severe storms and increased temperatures. This would subsequently compromise the UK’s infrastructure, agriculture, health and security.
The transition to a low-carbon economy can create new jobs, drive innovation, and stimulate economic growth. For example, investing in renewable energy technologies, such as wind and solar power, can create new jobs in manufacturing, construction, and installation.
The ocean will play a critical role in helping manage climate change and unlocking opportunities for economic growth in this area, said Hart, who is Chair of the All Parliamentary Group for the Ocean (APPG), a group for parliamentarians to support and promote ocean research and awareness.
During her speech, Hart discussed some of the findings from the APPG’s The Ocean: Turning the Tide on Climate Change report, which calls for the UK government to prioritise and facilitate investment in blue carbon and ocean-based initiatives to combat climate change. The report suggests several recommendations, such as:
- Include blue carbon habitat mapping within the UK’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
- Re-align and restore 20% of the UK’s saltmarsh and seagrass habitats by 2030. The UK has lost more than 90% of its seagrass meadows since the 1930s, making those remaining saltmarsh and seagrass habitats an essential blue carbon habitat on UK coasts.
- Establish ‘Highly Protected Marine Areas’ and ban harmful practices, particularly bottom trawling and dredging, across all existing UK Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).
- Include more aspects of marine carbon storage and sequestration, specifically saltmarsh and seagrass, in the UK’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory.
- Create a Minister for the Ocean to coordinate all ocean issues under one direct and exclusive ministerial responsibility.
- The UK CSM showcase, held at the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) headquarters, brought stakeholders from across the UK maritime industry together to explore the benefits of sharing and harnessing seabed mapping data.