The Committee will be focusing its inquiry on three areas: the impact of environmental changes and the legal framework protecting ocean biodiversity; a sustainable blue economy; and the impact of marine industries, science and innovation and blue finance.
Sustainability issues to be reviewed by the EAC include the regulation of aquaculture and the harm it could cause to the environment compared with fishing and the role of the UK in promoting a sustainable marine economy.
‘Ocean plays a critical role’
“The ocean plays a critical role in the daily lives of billions of people who live by it and whose livelihoods depend on it,” said Mary Creagh MP, chair of the EAC. “Today it is suffering from pollution and plastic waste, climate change and acidification, as well as growing demands on its resources.
“Our inquiry will shine a spotlight on the threats to our ocean, and ask what more the Government could be doing to protect it. We will look at emerging marine industries, and how the Government can build a sustainable ‘blue’ economy.”
Pressure group On the Hook, led by celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, has welcomed the inquiry. The group had called for an in-depth review of the MSC’s fishery schemes.
A spokesman for the group said: “There are MSC-certified fisheries that allow a fishing vessel and crew to use the same gear one day to fish tuna sustainably, receiving the MSC certification, and then on the same trip [they could] be hauling turtles, sharks, juvenile tuna and other protected species unsustainably.
“We hope the Committee will carry out an in-depth review of these major sustainability issues.”
The EAC is welcoming submissions to the inquiry that address some or all of the points in the review until 5pm on Wednesday 16 May.
Meanwhile, last month, the Marine Conservation Society urged buyers and consumers to diversify their choice of fish and move away from the UK’s traditional top five of cod, tuna, salmon, haddock and prawns.