Birmingham Friends of the Earth, Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland

Bringing the ocean to people’s doorsteps

Emily Williams volunteers with Friends of the Earth Birmingham, over 100 kilometers from the sea in the heart of England. Her passion for our seas, oceans and marine habitats comes from her university studies in conservation biology and marine environmental management.

Emily’s work with Friends of the Earth focuses on making sure people’s concern for their natural environment includes the state of the seas and oceans, even though they might only visit the sea-side once a year on holiday.

Overfishing, mining and careless development are upsetting the balance of our seas and oceans. Rising sea temperatures and the build-up of acid in seawater caused by climate change are killing the coral reefs that support countless other species.

Removing top predators like tuna and sharks allows jellyfish and squid to take over the seas, further reducing biodiversity. ‘There are plenty more fish in the sea’ is a common English expression we will have to stop using if we let the plunder of our oceans continue.
Because most people do not live near the sea or visit it very often, Emily is taking the marine experience to people where they live, with a series of ‘urban beach’ parties in town and city centres. This means that wherever people live, they have the opportunity to understand their connection to and dependence on a healthy marine environment.

In the political arena, challenges lie ahead. The next few years will test if reforms to European fisheries policy are working, including having ended decades of public money being used to give financial incentives to overfish.

At the global level, there needs to be a serious change in fisheries policy and ocean conservation. Less than 2% of the world’s oceans are protected. A global network of Marine Protected Areas is essential, and the UK has the ability to lead in its own waters and its overseas territories.

“Despite being an island nation, people in the UK are often unaware of the damage the choices we make have on our seas. Whether it is through our consumption of dwindling fish populations or our choice of a face-wash filled with micro-plastics, we all have an impact on our oceans, wherever we live.”EMILY WILLIAMS

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