Devon Maritime Forum to focus on the health of our ‘Blue Planet’

Posted on: 4 February 2019

Marine litter, plastic pollution and the health of our oceans will be among the subjects at the latest Devon Maritime Forum (DMF) being held this week (Tuesday 5 February).

The Forum’s winter conference at Saunton Sands Hotel will be split into two parts with the morning session exploring ‘Blue Health’.

Experts and academics from the Environment Agency, Natural England, Plymouth University, University of Exeter and the Devon Wildlife Trust will examine the health of our marine and coastal environment and the role it can play in supporting human health and well-being.

Delegates will receive a spectacular visual introduction to the day from marine photographer and author Dr Paul Naylor.

Dr. James Szymankiewicz a local GP and Chairman of the Devon Local Nature Partnership will speak on the value and need for ‘Blue Space’.

And world leading expert on marine litter Professor Richard Thompson OBE from Director of the Plymouth University’s Marine Institute will discuss if there are solutions to the global environmental problem of marine litter.

Professor Thompson said:

“Plastic debris is a huge problem. It is widely distributed at the sea surface, on the sea bed and on shorelines and nearly 700 species are known to encounter marine litter, with many reports of physical harm resulting from entanglement in and ingestion of plastic.

“At the same time, though, it is very clear that plastic items bring many societal benefits. Can these benefits be achieved without emissions of waste to the environment?

“Progress requires systemic changes in the way we produce, use and dispose of plastic. A key solution to two major environmental problems, our non-sustainable use of fossil carbon, to produce plastics, and the accumulation of waste, lie in recycling end-of-life plastics into new products.”

The afternoon session will focus on ‘Blue Action’ and ways to mobilise the groundswell of public support.

It will showcase a range of local initiatives which either raise awareness of the health of our oceans or encourage people to make small changes in the way they live.

To this end, and inspired by Defra’s 2019 Year of Green Action (YoGA) in collaboration with Devon Local Nature Partnership, the session will work towards drawing up five pledges.

These pledges will focus on ocean knowledge, marine pollution, volunteering and action, sustainable seafood consumption and responsible marine stewardship.

Devon residents will then be invited to take up one or more of these pledges, enabling each person to act.

Professor Ed Maltby, Chairman of the Devon Maritime Forum, said:

“We’re fortunate again to have some world leading authorities at our Forum.
“The health of our oceans and the problems of plastic pollution and marine litter has been firmly in the public eye over the past year, so it is timely to discuss these issues and the impacts they’re having.

“There is greater awareness of the need to protect our oceans and an increased level of public concern. But there is also now a willingness by many people to want to help and to get involved, and if we are to safeguard our oceans for future generations we must harness that support.”

For more information about the Devon Maritime Forum click here.

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Posted in: Community | Environment