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Public consultation launched on marine monitoring

News Item 2020

12-week consultation open from 25 August to 17 November 2020

The UK’s Marine Strategy sets out a comprehensive framework for assessing, monitoring and taking action across our seas to achieve the UK’s shared vision for clean, healthy, safe, productive and biologically diverse seas.  The Strategy aims to achieve Good Environmental Status (GES) across biodiversity, productivity and human pressures in UK seas.

Defra opened a 12-week consultation on 25 August 2020, seeking views on the marine monitoring programmes within the Strategy.  The consultation sets out proposals for updating Part Two of the UK Marine Strategy, first published in 2014 by Defra, the Northern Ireland Executive, the Scottish Government and the Welsh Government.

The UK Marine Strategy Part Two highlights the monitoring programmes that the UK governments plan to implement in order to gather data to assess whether the indicators (laid out in the UK Marine Strategy Part One) show the UK’s seas to be achieving or maintaining GES over the next 6 years.


JNCC’s role

For the last decade, JNCC has played a key role in helping to implement the UK Marine Strategy. We have contributed to the update of the marine biodiversity monitoring programmes, in particular those on benthic habitats, marine mammals and seabirds.  We have also led the development of the UK Marine Noise Registry, which is used to collate information on impulsive noise generated from various offshore activities in order to characterise the potential pressure on marine life.


Who is the consultation aimed at – can you get involved?

The consultation is aimed at groups or individuals who use the sea for whatever purpose or have an interest in it; business users of the sea; national and local interest groups such as environmental and recreational NGOs; the regional seas convention (OSPAR) Commission and its contracting parties; and academic institutions who carry out marine research and or monitoring.

The consultation runs for 12 weeks, from 25 August until 17 November 2020.

At the end of the consultation period a summary of responses will be published on


The UK Marine Strategy

Defra is required to produce a 'Marine Strategy' for all UK waters, co-ordinating the approach across all four UK administrations, whilst also co-operating with other countries sharing the UK’s seas.

The Strategy has three main components:

  1. UK Marine Strategy Part One: an assessment of marine waters, sets out objectives for GES and targets and indicators to measure progress towards GES (updated in 2019).
  2. UK Marine Strategy Part Two: sets out the monitoring programmes to monitor progress against the targets and indicators (published August 2014)
  3. UK Marine Strategy Part Three: sets out a programme of measures and actions for achieving GES (published December 2015)


What does Good Environmental Status (GES) mean for our seas?

GES is defined as the environmental status of marine waters, and is applicable to waters which are ecologically diverse, healthy and productive. GES also indicates that the marine environment is being maintained at a level that is sustainable, safeguarding its capacity for uses and activities by current and future generations.

Measuring progress

The UK Marine Strategy Part One allowed Defra and the devolved administrations to analyse the findings of 60 different indicator assessments, highlighting success stories and areas for improvement in relation to the health of our seas.

GES was achieved in some areas such as eutrophication (excessive richness of nutrients in coastal waters) and contaminants whilst the review suggests that further work is needed to understand and protect bird populations and tackle marine litter. Full findings are available in the updated UK Marine Strategy Part One, published in 2019 and on the Marine Online Assessment Tool (MOAT).

A number of issues and opportunities have been identified to improve UK marine monitoring and Defra will seek to work with JNCC and others to progress these ideas to improve future assessments of GES.

A key goal for the updated Marine Strategy Part Two is to co-ordinate the UK’s actions more closely with other countries, particularly through the OSPAR Convention, using common indicators and developing if necessary new joint methods to monitor progress.

Future plans

An update to the UK Marine Strategy Part Three is expected in 2021, which will set out the full suite of measures planned to ensure that we continue to make progress towards GES for UK seas.


More information

Written responses can be submitted online via the citizen space consultation hub at Defra.

During the consultation, if you have any enquiries or wish to receive hard copies of the documents, please contact

Further information on the implementation of the Marine Strategy Regulations can be found in the UK Marine Strategies Part One, Part Two and Part Three which are all published on

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