Committee Urges Government Action to Stop Using Seas as a Sewer

Sustainable Seas, a new report from the Environmental Audit Committee, focuses on threats to marine life from climate change, overfishing, and pollution and sets out what action the government must now take. 

The report finds that long-term harm from plastic pollution is unknown according to the Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser ‘because we haven’t looked hard enough’. Plastic pollution in oceans is set to treble in the next 10 years.

Climate change poses a triple whammy of threats to oceans from warming, deoxygenation and acidification. Even under best case scenario warming of 1.5oC, we are set to lose 90% of all coral reefs globally. 

Deep sea mining risks catastrophic impacts on seafloor species and habitats.


Environmental Audit Committee Chair Mary Creagh MP said: 

“We have to stop treating our seas as a sewer. Plastics, chemicals, and sewage are choking our oceans, polluting our water and harming every ocean species from plankton to polar bears. Supporting Indonesia and Malaysia to reduce plastic while simultaneously exporting our contaminated plastics to them shows the lack of a joined-up approach at the heart of the government’s strategy.


The committee is calling for urgent action from the government to:

  • Drive global efforts to protect our oceans with a legally binding ‘Paris Agreement for the Sea’ 
  • Bring forward the UK’s 2042 target date for achieving zero avoidable plastic waste 
  • Rapidly decarbonise our economy to meet net-zero emissions by 2050. 
  • Ban plastic packaging that is difficult or impossible to recycle
  • Introduce legally binding targets for water quality to reduce chemical pollutants from land.


 Click here to see the full report.


External Sources

UK Parliament website: Sustainable Seas Report