A £154 million programme to support coral reefs and mangroves and boost sustainable small-scale fishing in developing countries has been announced by the Government.
The “Coast” funding is part of the UK’s £500 million Blue Planet Fund launched at the G7 leaders summit last year, focusing on South and South East Asia, East and West Africa and island nations in the Pacific and Caribbean.
It will support projects to help vulnerable coastal communities in the face of climate change, such as protecting, restoring and managing habitats including mangroves, sea grass and coral reefs, improving the sustainability of small-scale fisheries and enabling sustainable aquaculture.
In addition, up to £100 million from the Blue Planet Fund will be used to support the implementation, management and enforcement of marine protected areas, and other ocean conservation measures in developing countries, the Government said.
Announcements on the funding have been made at the UN ocean conference taking place in Portugal this week, where UN secretary general Antonio Guterres warned the world had taken the seas for granted and was facing an “ocean emergency”.
The UK has launched a global alliance with Canada and the US to tackle illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing which threatens nature, fish stocks and communities around the world.
Britain is already leading an alliance of countries pushing to protect 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030.
The UK is keen to use this week’s conference to drive ambition ahead of the “Cop15” UN biodiversity summit being held in Montreal, Canada, in December to secure a new global deal to restore nature, including potential targets to protect 30% of the world’s land and sea by 2030.
However, environmental campaigners have warned of a lack of progress, urgency and leadership in preparatory talks for Cop15 held last week in Nairobi, Kenya, and that there was a real risk of failure for the December summit.
Countries are also starting work to negotiate a global treaty to end plastic pollution, which has a huge impact on the world’s oceans.
Lord Zac Goldsmith, minister for Pacific and international environment, said: “The world’s ocean is in crisis and we have reached a tipping point. This week world leaders came together to redouble their efforts to protect the marine environment.
“But it is absolutely critical these commitments are translated into action and that our ocean remains firmly on the global agenda.
“Through our new £500 million Blue Planet Fund we are helping countries tackle a wide range of issues, from illegal fishing to plastic pollution and marine protection.
“And I’m delighted to announce further UK support for the goal to protect 30% of the world’s ocean by 2030, including £154 million for coastal restoration and up to £100 million for marine protection.”