Ocean Recovery Update

Posted by: Kaye Russell on 11 March 2024 10:24

An update on ocean recovery progress is set to make waves at the next meeting of South Tyneside's Borough Council.

In January 2022, South Tyneside Council became the first local authority in the north of England to declare an urgent need for ocean recovery.

Councillor Ernest Gibson

The Borough's 'Motion for the Ocean' recognises the importance of the ocean in the fight against climate change and the role that local, and national government, can play in helping to protect it in their decision and policy making. It also supports the Council to meet its target of becoming carbon neutral by 2030.

An update will be given on the progress made in 2023, against a set of pledges, when Borough Council members meet this Thursday 14 March.

Councillor Ernest Gibson, Lead Member for Neighbourhoods and Climate Change, said: "The ocean is an important part of our local heritage with its protection a key factor in delivering local prosperity, boosting the local economy, providing sustainable jobs and ensuring a clean, safe coastal environment which better connects people and sea.

"Through our Motion for the Ocean we recognise that the ocean is in crisis and that both local and national government has an important role to play in its recovery.

"As a Council we continue to take positive action to protect and enhance our beautiful coastal areas and marine environment and have it embedded in our climate change plans.

"We consider ocean recovery in our decision and policy making, rally support for local people to act as marine citizens and lead the way for marine conservation regionally through a number of projects. We also continue to call on Central Government to do more at a national level as a Council and as the host authority of the LGA Coastal SIG."

Key actions and events during 2023 included introducing a new section in the Council's Climate Impact Assessment Tool to cover ocean, soil and waterway health. The tool helps to consider how council projects, policies and events may impact land use increase pollutants detrimental to waterway and ocean health.

The Council also called on the Government to put the ocean into net recovery by 2030 and continues to push national calls for a dedicated Minister for Coastal Communities to be appointed.

It also applied to the Government to classify Littlehaven beach as a designated bathing water. If approved, the site will receive regular water quality monitoring from the Environment Agency and provide the data needed for action is minimum water quality standards are not met. A decision is expected soon.

Bathing water classification improved at the Borough's other two designated bathing waters in 2023, with Sandhaven rated 'Excellent' and Marsden Bay rated 'Good'.

Through the 'Protect our Ocean' campaign, the Council continues to highlight the importance of coastal education, around issues such as single-use plastics and reusable materials as well as encouraging businesses to help do what they can to reduce pollution by considering what chemicals they use in their operations and disposal methods.

Work continues with schools on educating children about the coastal and marine environment in a fun and engaging way, with the council developing interactive games   and teacher's packs to educate through practical activities, lessons and quizzes. The Council also continues to work with South Tyneside College and Marine School to embed marine, maritime and blue carbon into their training provision.

Visitors to Sandhaven beach are encouraged to 'Feed the Fish' - a giant metal sculpture - their recyclable plastics to prevent them polluting the ocean and a Blue Futures exhibition was staged at The Word exploring human relationships with water and marine environments.

South Tyneside Council is also the host authority for the Local Government Association's Coastal Special Interest Group (LGA Coastal SIG) and continues to lobby the government on all marine and coastal matters on behalf of coastal communities nationally. The Coastal SIG organised at webinar in partnership with Natural England to explore the opportunities to include marine elements in strategies and has led calls for a more comprehensive all-year round water quality testing programme.

Protecting coastal marine life, plant species, birds and animals that are native to the coast supports the Council's Pledge for the Coast - a national call launched in Parliament by a coalition of coastal communities, of which South Tyneside is part of through its membership of the Coastal SIG.

The Council also continues to lead the region's Stronger Shores project which involved restoring marine habitats such as kelp and seagrass, and looking at how they can help to protect coastal communities from the impacts of climate change such as flooding and erosion.

In addition, the Council is a partner on the SeaScapes scheme, which aims to connect communities with the ocean and create opportunities for learning, access and enjoyment, as well as being a partner on the North Eastern IFCA (Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority) and Tyne Estuary Partnership.

Councillor Gibson, who is also Chair of the LGA Coastal SIG, added: "There is still so much more we can do around ocean recovery for the benefit of our local economy, our communities and the natural environment. Our ocean recovery declaration enables us to lead by example and inspire and empower local communities and businesses to join us and support a collective effort to protect our ocean for the future."

The meeting of Borough Council takes place this Thursday 14 March, at 6pm, in South Shields Town Hall. Borough Council meetings are livestreamed on the Council's YouTube channel at www.youtube.com@southtynesidecouncil


Last modified: 11 March 2024 10:29