Fisheries White Paper: sustainable fisheries for future generations

(Posted 7 September 2018)

Leaving the European Union provides an opportunity to move away from the Common Fisheries Policy, to create sustainable, responsible and responsive policies. Defra are seeking your views on the future approach to fisheries management.

NB Some of the proposals outlined in this paper will apply to the whole of the UK, while some apply to England only.

This consultation closes on 12 September 2018.


River basin planning: Working Together consultation

(Posted 7 September 2018)

Defra want your feedback on the work programme, timetable and process for working together to review and update the river basin management plans in 2021.

The current river basin management plans were published in February 2016. The plans must be reviewed and updated every 6 years. The first consultation on updating the plans is the Working Together consultation.

The Working Together consultation seeks your views on:

  • How other plans and strategies affect, or are affected by, the river basin management plans.
  • The proposed timetable and content of the work programme to review and update the river basin management plans.
  • Whether all relevant stakeholders have been identified.
  • How people can get involved in the review and update of the river basin management plans.

Find out more about river basin planning and future consultations on the river basin management consultations webpage.

This consultation closes on 22 December 2018




Invasive non-native species regulations – enforcement

(Posted 7 September 2018)

Defra wanted to know what you thought about their proposals to introduce penalties to enforce the EU regulation on invasive non-native species. These penalties will apply to offences in England and Wales. The EU Invasive Alien Species Regulation applies restrictions on invasive non-native species of most concern in Europe, including a ban on keeping and selling.

Defra received 128 responses to this consultation. They will now look to develop new sanctions to cover the restrictions laid out in the Regulation.

Read the outcome here




Unlocking the Severn for LIFE

(Posted 7 September 2018)

If the World Heritage Site at Ironbridge was the heart of the Industrial Revolution, then the River Severn was the principal artery. During the 19th century, navigation weirs were constructed to power the Revolution, but these choked the natural heritage of the UK’s longest river. This resulted in the loss of fisheries heritage including sturgeon and allis shad and caused significant declines in other species, notably twaite shad, eel, salmon and lamprey. Today the water quality problems caused by the Industrial Revolution are much improved, but the barriers remain.

The ‘Unlocking the Severn Project’ will address these historic blockages, reopening the entire River Severn and lower River Teme for all fish species. It will reconnect millions of people with their natural and cultural heritage through a little-known member of the herring family – the twaite shad – which was favoured in the court of Henry III and economically vital to the Severn Valley prior to the Industrial Revolution.

The project is a partnership between the Severn Rivers Trust, Canal & River Trust, Environment Agency and Natural England. Funded by the European Union’s LIFE Nature Programme and the Heritage Lottery Fund, and the partnership, this five-year project is the largest river restoration of its kind currently running in Europe.


Committee calls for new Environmental Enforcement and Audit Office

(Posted 7 September 2018)

The Environmental Audit Committee calls for the government to establish a new independent oversight body – the Environmental Enforcement and Audit Office (EEAO) – modelled on the National Audit Office, to ensure that the governance, enforcement, oversight and policy functions currently carried out by the European Commission and European Court of Justice are not lost after leaving the European Union.

New Environmental Principles and Governance Bill

The government has promised a new Bill covering air, waste, water, chemicals that cannot be copied and pasted into UK law through the EU (Withdrawal) Act. The Committee is calling for the government to go further and to enshrine biodiversity targets, habitats, soil quality targets, and access to justice in UK law for the first time.

Legally-binding targets

The Committee criticises a worrying lack of detail in the government’s 25 Year Environment Plan as to how the government’s environmental objectives will be achieved. The Committee recommends that legally-binding targets should be introduced on key environmental indicators – with five-yearly action reports along the model of the 2008 Climate Change Act.

To read more click here


World-leading microbeads ban comes into force

(Posted 7 September 2018)

A ban on the sale of products containing microbeads came into force in June as part of the government’s world-leading efforts to prevent these harmful pieces of plastic entering the marine environment.

Retailers across England and Scotland are no longer able to sell rinse-off cosmetics and personal care products that contain microbeads – the tiny pieces of plastic often added to products such as face scrubs, soaps, toothpaste and shower gels.This follows January’s ban on the manufacture of products containing microbeads.

With the microbeads ban now in place, the government is exploring how other microplastic sources enter our marine environment. Last month £200,000 was pledged by the government for scientists at the University of Plymouth to explore how tiny plastic particles from tyres, synthetic materials such as polyester, and fishing gear (eg nets, ropes and lines) enter our waterways and oceans.

The government also launched the Commonwealth Clean Oceans Alliance earlier this year to help eliminate single-use plastic and address marine plastic pollution across the Commonwealth. As part of this, member states have pledged to take action on plastics, be this by a ban on microbeads or committing to eliminate avoidable plastic waste.

Read more here


£5 billion investment by water companies to benefit the natural environment

(Posted 7 September 2018)

The Environment Secretary Michael Gove has challenged water companies to increase investment and improve environmental outcomes by 2025. The ambitious measures set out by the Environment Agency in the Water Industry National Environment Programme (WINEP) will see up to £5 billion of investment by water companies in the natural environment through 2020 to 2025.

This will help tackle some of the biggest challenges facing the water environment, from the spread of invasive species and low flows, to the effects of chemical and nutrient pollution. Water companies have a duty to protect and enhance the natural water environment. The government expects water companies to meet the obligations set out in the Programme by 2025.

The measures in WINEP represent the basic measures required by water companies to meet their environmental outcomes. However, this also presents an opportunity for the industry to develop innovative approaches which will benefit customers, communities, the environment and natural capital.

Read more here


A new monitoring network for small waters

(Posted 7 September 2018)

The National Trust and Freshwater Habitats Trust are working together to monitor the health of headwaters and ponds across the 250,000 ha National Trust estate.

As the second biggest landowner in the UK, the National Trust looks after a large number of freshwaters and has an influence over land management in many catchments. The National Trust has some ambitious targets for increasing the nature conservation value of its land, including freshwater habitats. Water Framework Directive data and designated site monitoring provide some information but this is largely limited to larger waterbodies; this current work is aiming to provide a better picture of the status of smaller waterbodies.

The two organisations have established a monitoring network (100 sites across England and Wales) which will be subject to repeat visits. Assessment is based upon plants and the use of simple water chemistry test kits, pioneered by Freshwater Habitats Trust’s ‘People, Ponds and Water’ project. Whilst this network will be visited by professional surveyors, they will also be encouraging National Trust staff and volunteers to collect information at other properties and will provide training to support this. The hope is that, in time, other organisations will get involved to help establish a national network providing much-needed data on the health of smaller waters, which are so important for biodiversity.


Native crayfish make a comeback in Lincolnshire

(Posted 7 September 2018)

The first transfer in the county of white-clawed crayfish has been hailed a success as the protected species is now breeding in its new location. Last July, 600 white-clawed crayfish were moved from locations in the River Witham – where they’re at risk of being wiped out by invasive signal crayfish – to new remote locations including a chalk stream in the Lincolnshire Wolds.

Native white-clawed crayfish have been in decline since non-native American signal crayfish escaped into UK waters in the 1970s. These larger, invasive crayfish outcompete native species for food and habitat and carry a disease fatal to the UK species. But working with partners such as the Lincolnshire Chalk Streams Project and the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust, the Environment Agency is seeking to secure their future by relocating them to areas free of the invaders in a scheme known as the ‘ark project’.

White-clawed crayfish are the country’s largest native freshwater crustaceans. Generally growing to 30–40mm in length, some can live up to 12 years. Collectively, non-native invasive species cost the UK economy an estimated £1.7 billion every year. Everyone can do their part to prevent the spread of invasive species and protect native ones by taking care to follow the biosecurity steps of thoroughly checking, cleaning and drying your clothes and equipment any time you’ve been in the water.

Read more here


New protections for thousands of seabirds

(Posted 7 September 2018)

The government has confirmed new protections for puffins and other seabirds.

England’s largest seabird colony will soon benefit from stronger protection as the Flamborough Head and Filey Coast Special Protection Area (SPA) will be extended by over 7,600 hectares.

This protected area of Yorkshire coastline already provides a safe haven for breeding seabirds including gannets, razorbills and the iconic puffin. Now, a quarter of a million breeding seabirds – including almost 2,000 puffins – will be better protected and given a safe space for feeding and foraging. Natural England has also launched a consultation to extend the nearby Teesmouth and Cleveland Coast SPA by nearly 10,000 hectares, which if designated, will help protect populations of breeding little terns and common terns.

Special Protection Areas are sites designated to protect populations of rare and vulnerable seabirds from human activity – including fishing or outdoor recreation – while minimising disturbance to birds’ open water feeding areas. There are already 45 such sites designated in English waters.

Read more here


Public reminded of the rules around seahorses

(Posted 7 September 2018)

A marine wildlife licence is required for activities which might disturb protected species, such as seahorses. The government is reminding people of the conservation rules protecting seahorses.

Both seahorse species found in UK waters – long snouted (Hippocampus guttulatus) and short snouted (Hippocampus hippocampus) – are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and all species of seahorse are protected under the Convention for International Trade in Endangered Species.

If you want to carry out an activity that would disturb a seahorse, or other UK or European protected species, you must have a marine wildlife licence, administered in England by the Marine Management Organisation. Such activities could include taking photographs, filming or surveys. Intentionally disturbing seahorses without appropriate permission could lead to enforcement action. The MMO will consider applications for licences for scientific or education purposes on a case-by-case basis.

Read more here


Marine planning milestone for the south coast of England

(Posted 7 September 2018)

The government has now adopted England’s South Marine Plan, which brings a new approach to managing the seas between Kent and Devon, informing decision-making on what activities take place in the marine environment. It will guide where and how this is developed, protected and improved over the next 20 years.

This plan covers from Folkestone in Kent to the River Dart in Devon – an area of approximately 1,700 km of coastline and over 21,000 square km of sea. It will inform and guide decisions by regulators managing the development of industry in marine and coastal areas, while conserving and enhancing the environment and recognising leisure uses.

The document is the culmination of 5 years of engagement with businesses, charities, representative organisations and individuals. Upcoming workshops will guide decision makers along the coast about how to incorporate the plans into their planning processes. Following adoption, the South Marine Plans move into the monitoring and implementation stage. Plans will be formally reviewed every three years and an assessment will be made as to whether they are still fit for purpose.


Fish released to boost North East rivers

(Posted 7 September 2018)

The Environment Agency has released more than 8,000 young fish into tributaries of the River Tyne to encourage natural recovery of fish stocks. The trout were bred at Kielder Salmon Centre in Northumberland.

Fish releases

Each year Environment Agency staff release thousands of salmon and trout from Kielder Salmon Centre into the River Tyne and its tributaries. The centre breeds 360,000 salmon and between 10,000 and 20,000 trout every year to compensate for the construction of Kielder Reservoir and ensure the River Tyne and its tributaries continue to flourish.

In addition, last year they released 40,000 fish including chub, dace, roach, bream, barbel, tench, grayling, crucian carp and rudd into rivers across the North East which were reared at the Environment Agency’s fish farm near Calverton, Nottinghamshire, using funding from rod licence sales.

Read more here


UK strategy to protect world’s oceans announced

(Posted 7 September 2018)

The government will agree a new strategy to support long-term health of the marine environment. This is an ambitious plan to bring together all of the government’s international oceans’ work under a single strategy for the first time.

This new oceans strategy, under the aegis of the FCO, will cover work from departments including Defra, BEIS, DfT and DIT. The strategy will be developed over the coming months. Responding to the recommendation from the Government Chief Scientific Adviser to develop a more strategic approach to marine and maritime policy, it will provide a blueprint for international action by HMG towards the oceans that supports the long-term prosperity of the UK and the long-term health of the marine environment.

Source of information here


‘Keep Scotland Beautiful launches first wave of bathing water campaign’

(Posted 7 September 2018)

The campaign, funded by Scottish government, will aim to make a difference by tackling littering, dog fouling and feeding gulls by those visiting the beach.

The campaign will be focusing on three beaches in particular:

  •     South Beach, Ayr
  •     Portobello Beach, Edinburgh
  •     Fisherrow Sands, Musselburgh

All three of the beaches selected for this campaign trial have faced challenges in improving the quality of their seawater as measured by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), whose research confirms the strong link between behaviour on the land and the cleanliness of the local seawater.

The pilot project covering the three beaches will trial a number of interventions, including:

  • Business packs for local businesses including stickers, posters and information on how they can get involved;
  • Colourful bin wraps with key campaign messaging;
  • Signage around the beachfront raising awareness of the campaign;
  • A series of community engagement events involving dogs, litter and gulls, communicating how these can seriously impact on water quality.

To watch as the campaign unfolds, check out My Beach, Your Beach

Source of information:


River basin management planning in Scotland: statement of consultation steps for the third plans

(Posted 7 September 2018)

SEPA are now starting the process of updating the Scotland river basin district management plan. The plan, along with the Solway Tweed river basin district management plan, describes the environmental objectives for all Scotland’s river, loch, groundwater, estuary and coastal water bodies and is a route map for achieving them.

The plan is updated every six years. You can view the current plan here: River basin management plan for the Scotland river basin district 2015 - 2027

The updated plan, which will be Scotland’s third river basin management plan, has to be finalised by December 2021. The statement of consultation steps document for the third plans sets out the steps SEPA will take to engage stakeholders in the preparation of this plan. SEPA are very keen to hear your thoughts on these steps. Take a look at the statement of consultation steps document (follow the link below), and then let SEPA know what you think by completing the online survey.

The consultation runs until 22 December 2018. Your response will be used to inform improvements SEPA can make to the consultation arrangements set out in this document.




European waters – Assessment of status and pressures 2018

(Posted 7 September 2018)

The main aim of EU water policy is to ensure that a sufficient quantity of good-quality water is available for people's needs and the environment. The Water Framework Directive (WFD), which came into force in 2000, established a framework for the assessment, management, protection and improvement of the quality of water resources across the EU. Since December 2015, EU Member States have been publishing the second river basin management plans (RBMPs) for achieving the environmental objectives of the WFD. These plans are updates of the first RBMPs, which were published in 2009.

By spring 2018, 25 Member States had reported to the Water Information System for Europe (WISE). In 2018, the European Commission will publish its report on the assessment of the second RBMPs and will start the process of evaluating the WFD. To accompany and inform this process, the EEA has produced this report on the state of Europe's water.

Key messages:

  • Of the different water bodies recognised by the WFD across Europe, groundwaters generally have the best status.
  • Around 40% of surface waters (rivers, lakes and transitional and coastal waters) are in good ecological status or potential, and only 38% are in good chemical status.
  • In most Member States, a few priority substances account for poor chemical status, the most common being mercury. If mercury and other ubiquitous priority substances were omitted, only 3% of surface water bodies would fail to achieve good chemical status. Improvements for individual substances show that Member States are making progress in tackling the sources of contamination.
  • Overall, the second RBMPs show limited change in status, as most water bodies have the same status in both cycles. The proportion of water bodies with unknown status has decreased and confidence in status assessment has grown.
  • The main significant pressures on surface water bodies are hydromorphological pressures (40%), diffuse sources (38%), particularly from agriculture, and atmospheric deposition (38%), particularly of mercury, followed by point sources (18%) and water abstraction (7%).
  • Member States have made marked efforts to improve water quality or reduce pressure on hydromorphology. Some of the measures have had an immediate effect; others will result in improvements in the longer term.
  • It can be expected that by the time the third RBMPs are drafted (2019–2021), some of the several thousand individual measures undertaken in the first and second RBMPs should have had a positive effect in terms of achieving good status.


North Sea fisheries: EU Council adopts multiannual management plan

(Posted 7 September 2018)

On 18 June 2018 the Council adopted a new multiannual management plan (MAP) for the North Sea concerning demersal fish stocks – species that live and feed near the sea bed.

The new measures will target key species covering more than 90% of the landings in the area and being at risk of over-exploitation, as well as their by-catches. The North Sea basin is a complex fishing area marked by the presence of mixed stocks and the phenomenon of choke species, ie low volume quota species which, if reached, would lead to vessels having to tie-up even if they still had quota for other species.

The new North Sea MAP will ensure that demersal fish stocks are sustainably exploited according to the principles of maximum sustainable yield (MSY) and of the ecosystem approach to fisheries management.

Read more here




Agricultural pesticides found in small streams in Germany

(Posted 7 September 2018)

Small streams are important refuges for biodiversity, yet knowledge of the effects of agricultural pesticides on these freshwater bodies is limited. Researchers have used national monitoring data to determine the number of small streams in Germany where regulatory acceptable concentrations (RACs) of pesticides are exceeded.

An analysis of data covering almost 500 pesticides and over 2,000 small streams suggests that agricultural land use is a major contributor of pesticides to streams. Overall, RACs were exceeded in 26% of sampled streams, and exceedances were 3.7 times more likely if a stream was near agricultural land. These findings may have implications for environmental monitoring and agri-environmental measures.

To read more click here


New magnetised carbon nanotubes remove mercury more effectively from water

(Posted 7 September 2018)

Water pollution by toxic elements is a major economic and environmental concern, and mercury is one of the most poisonous of elements to be released into the environment by industry. Mercury exposure can cause severe ill health. Efficient, simple and convenient methods to remove mercury from industrial and other waste streams and drinking water are essential. This study successfully trialled a new technique, using magnetised multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs), to remove mercury from waste water.

To read more click here


Fibres from polyester clothes could be more damaging to marine life than microbeads

(Posted 7 September 2018)

Tiny polyester fibres, which are washed into rivers, lakes and seas every time we do our laundry could cause more harm to animals than plastic microbeads, a new study explains. The researchers looked at the effect of microbeads and fibres on a small crustacean Ceriodaphnia dubia (a water flea) which lives in freshwater lakes. They found that although both types of plastic were toxic, microfibres caused more harm. Both microplastics stunted the growth of the animals, and reduced their ability to reproduce. Microfibres, however, did this to a greater degree, and also caused noticeable deformities in the crustacean’s body and antennae.

To read more click here


ICES paper on Welfare of Aquatic Animals

(Posted 7 September 2018)

‘Welfare of Aquatic Animals: where things are, where they are going, and what it means for research, aquaculture, recreational angling, and commercial fishing’.

Abstract: This paper revisits the evidence attributing sentience-pain-suffering to aquatic animals. The objective is to inform readers of the current state of affairs, to direct attention to where research is needed, and to identify ‘wicked’ questions that are difficult to resolve unequivocally. By separating the ethical from the scientific debate, applying organized scepticism to the latter, and taking a pragmatic approach that does not depend on resolving the ‘wicked’ questions, it hopes to focus and strengthen research on aquatic animal welfare.

A second but closely-related objective is to briefly summarize the research used to support the regulations governing the welfare of aquatic animals, particularly its limitations. If you interact with aquatic animals, these regulations already affect you. If the regulatory environment continues on its current trajectory (adding more aquatic animal taxa to those already regulated), activity in some sectors could be severely restricted, even banned. There are surely some lively debates and tough choices ahead. In the end, extending legal protection to aquatic animals is a societal choice, but that choice should not be ascribed to strong support from a body of research that does not yet exist, and may never exist, and the consequences of making that decision must be carefully weighed.

Access the paper here




Single-use plastic: unflushables

(Posted 7 September 2018)

The Environment Committee of the London Assembly has published a report on ‘Single-use plastic: unflushables’.

Key facts

  • Thames Water removes 30 tonnes of unflushable material every day from one of its sites. It unclogs 5 house blockages every hour from London’s sewers, a 30% increase from last year. Sewage blockages cost Thames Water (and ultimately consumers) £12 million each year.
  • Waste authorities collect more than 100,000 tonnes of nappy waste a year. The majority will be sent for incineration, adding to London’s carbon emissions and polluting the air.
  • Nappies that go to landfill take around 400 years to disintegrate.
  • Across the UK, over 11 billion wet wipes, nearly 2.5 billion period products, nearly 4 billion nappies and over a billion incontinence products are purchased every year. These numbers are growing – wipes by over a quarter, and incontinence products by nearly a half, compared with 5 years ago.
  • There is no legal requirement for manufacturers to list materials on the packaging of products. Tampons contain 5% plastic, period pads contain 90% plastic and nappies contain an estimated 50% plastic and similar materials.

Key findings

  • Millions of unflushables are used, and disposed of, every day in London. Disposable wet wipes, nappies and period products are convenient, effective and popular, but these products cause significant environmental damage when disposed of incorrectly. 
  • Like all single-use products, unflushables waste natural resources – particularly when they are not recycled or reused. They also contain large amounts of plastic, which increases the damage they cause. 
  • Wet wipes and period products are often flushed down the toilet, where they combine with fat and oil to create fatbergs and sewer blockages. Those that escape into the wider environment cause further damage – the extent of this damage is still unknown. 
  • Nappies are either sent for incineration – contributing to local air pollution – or dumped as landfill. 

Read more (including the report) here


Commonwealth Marine Economies Programme Overview

(Posted 7 September 2018)

The Commonwealth Marine Economies Programme is a £23 million programme over four years (from 2016) to assist Small Island Developing States in the Caribbean, Pacific and Indian Ocean to develop maritime economy plans for sustainable economic growth and prosperity.

This document provides a brief snapshot of the impact and success the Programme has had since it was launched two years ago.

Click here to see the two-page update


Report states that water companies need to do more to protect the environment

(Posted 7 September 2018)

The Water and Sewerage Companiesメ Environmental Performance Report, published by the Environment Agency, rates how well the big nine water and sewage companies (operating mainly or wholly in England) managed their impact on the environment in 2017. This is done across a wide range of measures – including pollution, managing sewage and complying with permits – and also compares individual company performance.

Although there has been a gradual improving trend in environmental performance over recent years, the industry is not doing enough to reduce serious pollution incidents and comply with permits.

The report concludes with a reminder about the pressures on water quality and supply: with a growing population and climate pressures on the water environment, and increased public and legal expectation, water companies need to further rise to the challenge and improve promptly.

Read more here


Go on a coastal adventure with The Snail and the Whale

(Posted 7 September 2018)

Explore England's coastline!

This summer saw the launch of a unique partnership between the Marine Management Organisation (MMO), Natural England and Macmillan Children’s Books, celebrating 15 years of The Snail and the Whale, Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s classic tale of adventure and friendship.

First published in 2003, the story is of a tiny snail who hitches a lift around the world on the tail of ‘a great big, grey-blue humpback whale’. Together they go on an amazing journey, past icebergs and volcanoes, sharks and penguins. The little snail feels so small in the vastness of the world but when disaster strikes and the whale is beached in a bay, it’s the tiny snail’s big plan that saves the day.

Macmillan Children’s Books, MMO and Natural England want to encourage families to go on their own big adventures, exploring The England Coast Path. While visitors might not see icebergs, sharks and penguins, with the help of their The Snail and the Whale Coastal Adventure booklet they will have all the tools and information they need to explore their coast – from matching animals to their coastal homes and learning fun marine animal facts, to advice about keeping our coasts free from marine litter.

The booklet is available to download now from the MMO website.

Read more here


Marine Pollution Contingency Plan

(Posted 7 September 2018)

The plan summarises procedures the Marine Management Organisation follows in a marine pollution incident. The plan (click here) is under constant review to ensure the best possible response and includes details on:

  • how to get approval to use an oil spill treatment product in English and Welsh waters
  • environment groups
  • MMO’s out of hours arrangements
  • resources
  • legal information
  • other contingency plans
  • other marine emergencies
  • forms and templates for use during and after an incident
  • approved products
  • list and details of standing approvals to use treatment products.

Other useful information:

Report a marine pollution incident


Removing tens of thousands of obsolete dams in Europe will bring life back to rivers

(Posted 7 September 2018)

With only 40% of Europe’s waterways in good condition, a new report calls for tens of thousands of redundant dams and other barriers to be removed to help restore rivers and lakes – boosting wildlife populations and benefiting communities across the continent. A new initiative Dam Removal Europe aims to start an era of dam removal.

The report stresses that the density of dams, weirs and locks in Europe is far higher than previously suspected, with salmon, eel, sturgeon and other migratory fish encountering obstacles every kilometre on average. Previously, only dams higher than 10 m were counted, but these represent less than 3% of all river barriers.

It is estimated that in France, Spain, Poland and the UK alone, there are up to 30,000 mainly small dams which are now obsolete. There is no comprehensive study yet on the total number of obsolete dams in Europe, but the real figure is most probably many times higher. While these barriers provide no benefits to communities, they still prevent rivers from flowing freely, contributing to the disappearance of freshwater species, particularly migratory fish that cannot reach their spawning grounds. Obviously, this also affects birds feeding on fish as well as many other animals. The report calls for governments across Europe to start removing these redundant dams, which will breathe life back into river systems and provide new economic opportunities for local economies.


Infographic: The Multiple Benefits of Natural Flood Management

(Posted 7 September 2018)

A useful infographic to help communicate to communities about the multiple benefits of Natural Flood Management.


Ponds and small streams are important for policymakers

(Posted 7 September 2018)

Two new publications have highlighted the importance for policymakers of ponds and small streams. ‘New policy directions for global pond conservation’ highlights the importance of ponds for freshwater biodiversity, noting that ponds are among the most biodiverse and ecologically important freshwater habitats.

The second paper 'The importance of small waterbodies for biodiversity and ecosystem services: implications for policymakers', broadens out the scope by considering the importance of small waters generally, covering ponds, small lakes, headwaters, small streams and springs, for ecosystem services and biodiversity. 

The Freshwater Habitats Trust is inviting partners and funders to help build the networks and projects needed to protect, manage and recreate small waters, which are a vital part of the freshwater habitat network.


Bio-Bead pollution on our beaches – a Cornish Plastic Pollution Coalition report

(Posted 7 September 2018)

The Cornish Plastic Pollution Coalition has produced this report due to growing concern about the impact of Bio-Bead pollution on local waterways, beaches, seas and wildlife. The aim of the report is to help identify the mechanisms by which Bio-Beads are entering the aquatic environment, so that measures can be put in place as soon as possible to limit and control this previously little-understood problem.

If you have any facts, comments, corrections, figures, suggestions for future areas to research, images (particularly photos of fresh finds, with location and date) or any other useful contribution to add, please send them to

Bio-Beads are tiny plastic pellets used by many UK water companies as part of the wastewater treatment process at some of their plants. They may also be used in other industrial applications, such as the treatment of leachate and industrial wastewater. Bio-Beads are found on many Cornish beaches in vast numbers. Although further sampling will be useful, surveys to date indicate that they often account for more than half of all industrial plastic pellets (nurdles) found.

The marine plastic problem is notoriously hard to tackle given its varied sources and entry points. However, as a discrete form of marine debris, we hope the Bio-Bead issue is one that will be relatively easy to address.


Update on the sources, fate, effects and consequences for the Seafood Industry of microplastics in the marine environment

(Posted 7 September 2018)

This short report is an update of a previous Seafish Information Sheet produced in 2016. This latest version includes key findings from recent research studies on the implications of plastics on the marine environment, which include:

  • The extent of microplastics contamination in land and freshwater systems as a key source of contamination of the marine environment through freshwater run-off.
  • Microplastic particles in seafood are considered to be a small source of human exposure to these substances compared with other dietary sources.
  • An improved understanding of the physiological pathways of microplastics; some particles smaller than 150 micrometres have been observed to cross the digestive tract wall in mammals, but how the body deals with these particles is still unknown. The ability of nanoplastic particles to access organs has been highlighted but there is still uncertainty about the physiological impacts.
  • Risk that laboratory contamination could result in higher levels of microplastics being recorded in fish.
  • Time series data on plastic levels in the North Sea has been analysed and found to be stable since 2000 but at a level well above the agreed environmental quality objective.

As before, this paper also identifies some of the key information gaps surrounding this issue. As new research becomes available further information updates will be provided.

Read the report here

‘Seafish’ is a Non-Departmental Public Body set up by the Fisheries Act 1981 to improve efficiency and raise standards across the seafood industry. Their mission is to support a profitable, sustainable and socially responsible future for the seafood industry.


Fishing into the Future: Guidelines for Industry-Science Data Collection

(Posted 7 September 2018)

Step-by-step guidance to gathering useful and usable scientific information.

See the report here

Fishing into the Future is a UK-wide charity acting for sustainable, prosperous UK fisheries. Built and guided by fishermen, for fishermen, they seek to create and realise innovative real-world solutions for a complex industry. The charity supports fishermen to engage with fisheries science, management and sustainable business practices.


Microplastics and persistent fluorinated chemicals in the Antarctic

(Posted 7 September 2018)

In early 2018, Greenpeace undertook an expedition to the Antarctic to carry out scientific research, including seabed submarine dives exploring little-known benthic ecosystems and sampling for microplastics and persistent chemicals, in order to learn more about biodiversity and pollution in this remote area.

This briefing presents the findings of the sea-surface water samples and manta trawl net samples taken to investigate the presence of microplastics in Antarctic waters, and the snow samples taken to analyse for the persistent and hazardous chemicals, per- and polyfluorinated alkylated substances (PFAS).

The samples show that even the most remote and pristine habitats of the Antarctic are contaminated with microplastic waste and persistent hazardous chemicals.


Valuing Rivers: How the diverse benefits of healthy rivers underpin economies

Executive summary:

Though critical to all life – and to most economic activity – water has consistently been undervalued relative to the wide range of uses and benefits it provides. However, with new valuation methods and frameworks being developed, governments, the private sector and financial institutions are beginning to make progress in recognizing the wider value of water. As these discussions advance, we believe it is important to shine a light on a parallel and equally critical challenge: the consistent failure of economies and societies to value rivers for their full spectrum of benefits.

Read this report from WWF here




Diffuse Pollution: Evidence, Effective Practice and Lessons for Policy, Practice and Investment (18–19 July 2018)

(Posted 7 September 2018)

Diffuse pollution plays a pivotal role in how successfully water quality objectives under WFD are achieved. Despite significant progress being made on improving the quality of our rural, urban and bathing waters in the past 15 years, diffuse pollution continues to be a major impediment to meeting these objectives.

The aim of this conference, run by CIWEM, was to set out the policy drivers and opportunities, emerging trends and understanding of the scale of the problem and current progress on diffuse pollution from a range of sources. It examined the delivery of cost effective practice and what form this should take, and how lessons can be taken forward into post-Brexit policy and investment programmes.

The event covered innovative case studies, collaborative approaches and discussion on the scale of the issue and current progress on rural, urban and bathing water quality issues and diffuse pollution.

Access outputs here


World Water Forum, Brasilia 2018
(18–23 March 2018)

(Posted 7 September 2018)

Key Messages

  • Nature-based solutions for a water secure world.
    The potential of nature-based solutions to address contemporary water management challenges such as food security, sustainable cities, and disaster risk reduction represent an offer by nature the world cannot refuse.
  • Investing in both natural and engineered infrastructure brings development, ecosystem, and climate adaptation wins.
    Healthy, well-functioning natural infrastructure such as watersheds, floodplains, wetlands and river habitat, help to optimise the long-term performance of engineered infrastructure, such as dams, reservoirs and irrigation systems. This can bring national and local economic benefits, help to sustain ecosystem functions, and contribute to storing carbon and broader landscape development.
  • Good water governance is the cornerstone for sharing water and achieving water management goals including those targets from the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
    Multi-level and inclusive governance is essential for ensuring water security for all (SDG6) but also food security (SDG3), energy security (SDG7), and peace and justice (SDG16), amongst other goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.