Ministerial Foreword

In 2005, the UK Government and the Devolved Administrations published Charting Progress, which provided the first overall assessment of the state of our seas. It also identified gaps in knowledge about the marine environment and proposed actions, which have since been implemented, to improve the way we monitor, gather information and assess the state of our seas.

The UK Marine Monitoring and Assessment Strategy (UKMMAS) community, which has prepared Charting Progress 2, was established in response to Charting Progress to provide a more structured and co-ordinated approach to the assessment and monitoring of our seas. Charting Progress 2 illustrates the changes since 2005 and the advances we have made towards our shared vision of ‘clean, healthy, safe, productive and biologically diverse oceans and seas’. It reports data for the eight regional seas.

As the lead Ministers for the Marine Science Co-ordination Committee, we welcome Charting Progress 2 and are confident that it has a broader evidence base and provides a more robust and reliable assessment of the state of our seas than the 2005 report. The data for Charting Progress 2 have been gathered by scientists from marine agencies, research institutes, universities, environmental organisations and industries across the UK. All the data have been peer-reviewed by independent national or international scientists and UKMMAS has reported confidence in the findings, as well as identifying any gaps in knowledge.

Charting Progress 2 gives us the evidence for our seas, which we need to inform policy decisions on their future management. It also provides the foundation for the initial assessment required by the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive in 2012. This Directive requires us to ensure that we are taking measures to achieve ‘Good Environmental Status’ for our seas by 2020. It focuses our efforts towards a common goal and enables the international collaboration that is vital to achieving the vision we share for the sustainable use of our seas.

With Charting Progress 2, the UKMMAS community has also published a summary leaflet giving a map-based overview of the findings. The web version of Charting Progress 2 at http://chartingprogress.defra.gov.uk has links to the technical Feeder Reports which open up the data for the assessment to everyone. There are also links from Google Earth to the findings.

We have published a Government Commentary on Charting Progress 2, available at www.defra.gov.uk/environment/marine and the resources page. This highlights the important messages coming from UKMMAS’s work and our approach to them and also identifies where we need to improve knowledge or reduce uncertainty before we can make policy and management decisions.

We would like to thank the many organisations and individual scientists who have contributed to make Charting Progress 2 the authoritative report on the state of our seas and a model for others worldwide.

Richard Benyon

Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Natural Environment and Fisheries

Edwin Poots

Minister of the Environment, Northern Ireland

Richard Lochhead

Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment, Scotland

Jane Davidson

Minister for the Environment, Sustainability and Housing, Wales