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Brexit and the marine environment - key priorities for biodiversity


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Talk delivered by Abigail McQuatters-Gollop (Plymouth University) at the British Ecological Society- Marine Biological Society Brexit and the Marine Environment meeting. London, 31 Oct 2017

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Brexit and the marine environment - key priorities for biodiversity

  1. 1. Brexit and the marine environment - key priorities A biodiversity perspective Dr Abigail McQuatters-Gollop 1@anaturalstate
  2. 2. @anaturalstate UK vision for marine environment UK high level marine objectives, Defra (2009) Clean, healthy, safe, productive and biologically diverse oceans and seas
  3. 3. @anaturalstate Objective: Good Environmental Status (GES) for European seas by 2020 Figure from OSPAR
  4. 4. @anaturalstate • Ecosystem and regional seas approach – Ecologically meaningful – Transboundary thinking and action • Implemented by OSPAR and UK • Habitats and species focus • Biodiversity and foodwebs = unique MSFD
  5. 5. @anaturalstate MSFD delivery – big UK investment! • Indicators -> environmental targets (GES) Science underpins all elements
  6. 6. @anaturalstate MSFD significant achievement • First ever target-based assessment of UK seas – Globally rare, cutting edge – Climate change and anthro pressures • Used to inform mgmt. measures: – MPAs – Fishing practices – Nutrient regulation – Invasive spp vectors
  7. 7. @anaturalstate Biodiversity risks if no MSFD? Dissolution of ecosystem protection Reduced investment in evidence provision Loss of integrative management approach Loss of UK influence in science- policy Inability to implement ecosystem approach in UK waters
  8. 8. @anaturalstate Dissolution of ecosystem protection • Reduced ambition for biodiversity targets – Priority on economics (fisheries, development, etc) • Proactive biodiversity management or catastrophe–response? • Lack of enforcement – consequences for not delivering?
  9. 9. @anaturalstate Reduced investment in evidence provision • Diminished investment in biodiversity monitoring – Currently EU impetus – Reduced ability to detect change • Lack of strategy and investment in indicators and targets – Reduced capacity to link state-pressure changes – Inability to determine cause of change • Failure to provide robust evidence for decision making
  10. 10. @anaturalstate Loss of integrative approach • Pressures not managed holistically – Economics vs conservation – Integrative effects of pressures • Unrealistic to manage UK waters in isolation – Mobile species – Transboundary management measures • Wicked problems require transboundary collaboration
  11. 11. @anaturalstate Loss of UK influence in science-policy • UK leading supporting research and implementation of MSFD biodiversity elements – good for UK • UK role and influence in OSPAR and ICES post- Brexit? • UK lacks key science and policy skills • Across-border working essential for progressing delivery of MSFD and ecosystem approach
  12. 12. @anaturalstate Inability to deliver ecosystem approach • Each step integral to holistic management • How to balance commercial interests v biodiversity protection?
  13. 13. @anaturalstate Not black or white…. • Best case scenario: MSFD through OSPAR – Consequences for non-delivery? • Medium case scenario: leave MSFD but management of UK habitats and species in isolation – Lack of transboundary consideration • Worst case scenario: leave MSFD, stop proactively managing species and habitats – Catastrophe/disaster mobilisation
  14. 14. @anaturalstate Opportunities • UK could increase ambition for biodiversity protection and ecosystem approach to marine management • UK could increase investment in science and monitoring leading to robust advice • UK could get deal with Europe for freedom of movement, maintaining our research presence • UK could lead the way with conservation management (e.g. MPAs in our OSTs; microplastic reduction) Opportunities (like this meeting) for UK marine community to influence Brexit outcome
  15. 15. @anaturalstate Priorities for marine biodiversity • Consequences for non-delivery of ecosystem protection • Provision of robust evidence for decision making - > continued investment in monitoring and applied research • Maintenance of UK influence in international science-policy • Remain in the OSPAR process -> transboundary integrative approach • Maintenance of ecosystem approach to managing marine habitats and species
  16. 16. @anaturalstate Thank you Abigail McQuatters-Gollop