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Marine and fisheries

The marine environment and fisheries

Front cover of Marine Plan 08-09.  DTE/Defra/JNCC (SEA7 survey)Defra is the UK custodian of the marine and aquatic environment, which is a shared and valuable asset.Our priorities are set out in our Marine Programme Plan. See also the information sheets accompanying the Plan.

Oceans and seas cover 70% of the world’s surface and are of critical importance economically, environmentally and socially. They are a valuable source of food, minerals and fossil energy; provide essential and biodiverse habitats; account for almost 50% of the world’s carbon fixing potential; and offer us opportunities to exploit renewable energy sources' such as wind and tidal power.

Two men fishing - Front cover of Migratory and Freshwater Fisheries Programme Plan. Environment Agency Freshwater and migratory fish are valued and important aspects of our ecosystems. Safeguarding these stocks contributes towards Defra's biodiversity objectives, as well as bringing significant socio-economic benefits. Our priorities are set out in our Migratory and Freshwater Fisheries Programme Plan. See also the information sheet accompanying the Plan.

Latest news

Marine and Coastal Access Bill

To help deliver the Government's vision for the marine environment, the Marine and Coastal Access Bill has been introduced to Parliament.

Marine Biodiversity

The Marine Biodiversity Policy Team are responsible for the nature conservation Marine Bill provisions and transposition of the Habitats and Birds Directives in the offshore marine area. This includes policy on marine protected areas, ecosystem objectives, and marine species and habitat conservation.

Marine Environment

The Government’s vision for the marine environment is for clean, healthy, safe, productive and biologically diverse oceans and seas. If we are to achieve this goal we must address issues such as the overexploitation of commercial fish stocks, the release of pollutants and the degradation of ecosystems through human activities, climate change and invasive species.

Marine Fisheries

The Government aims to achieve a fishing sector that is sustainable, profitable and supports strong local communities, managed effectively as an integral part of coherent policies for the marine environment.

Migratory and freshwater fisheries

Defra works closely with the Environment Agency to conserve salmon, eels and freshwater fish to maintain biodiversity and economic and recreational opportunities provided by these fisheries in England and Wales.

Fish farming and health

These pages cover aquaculture, trade, diseases, waste and by-products.

Marine and Fisheries Science

In this section you can find the Marine Fisheries Science Yearbooks and information on the Fisheries Challenge Fund; Defra’s Evidence and Innovation Strategy, the Marine Fisheries Science Advisory Group; Surveys to help protect submerged habitats and heritage and UK marine science and monitoring.

Whales and Dolphins

You can read Defra’s brochure: 'Protecting whales – A global responsibility’ here, as well as information on Cetacean by-catch and what to do if you find a stranded whale or dolphin.


Page last modified: 15 May 2009

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs