The sea is for life, not just for hol­i­days

Country Life Every Week - - Contents - Pine­hurst II, Pine­hurst Road, Farn­bor­ough Busi­ness Park, Farn­bor­ough, Hamp­shire GU14 7BF Tele­phone 01252 555072 www.coun­trylife.co.uk

Good news: North Sea cod will soon be back on the menu. Stocks have re­cov­ered suf­fi­ciently from chronic over­fish­ing and the Ma­rine Stew­ard­ship Coun­cil is to award it a blue la­bel badge of sus­tain­abil­ity. This comes as de­fra Sec­re­tary Michael Gove, son of an Aber­do­nian fish mer­chant, sig­nals his in­ten­tion to ‘take back con­trol’ of our wa­ters by with­draw­ing Bri­tain from the Lon­don Fish­eries Con­ven­tion of 1964, which pre­dated our en­try to the EU with its dis­as­trous Com­mon Fish­eries Pol­icy.

We are, in Churchillian par­lance, an ‘is­land race’, in­hab­it­ing, to quote Shake­speare, a ‘pre­cious stone set in the sil­ver sea’. We take pride in the Royal Navy, smaller now, but equipped with new air­craft car­ri­ers; Lon­don is the world cen­tre for mar­itime law and in­sur­ance; many goods ar­rive by ship. We are, in­creas­ingly, re­ly­ing on the sea for wa­ter and power and the sight of it makes us feel bet­ter. Be­ing sur­rounded by sea is part of our na­tional iden­tity.

How­ever, we don’t al­ways treat it well. on page 54, John Wright de­scribes the sur­pris­ing wealth of food that can be har­vested from rock pools. That they’re so full of life is tes­ta­ment to the im­proved qual­ity of Bri­tish wa­ters—a con­se­quence of the EU’S in­sis­tence on bet­ter stan­dards.

Un­for­tu­nately, how­ever, the mol­lusc pop­u­la­tion of­ten has to co­habit with an ever-in­creas­ing tide of rub­bish. The prob­lem isn’t unique to Bri­tain—re­cently, the beaches of tiny, un­in­hab­ited Hen­der­son Is­land in the Pa­cific were found to be pol­luted with 38 mil­lion pieces of plas­tic— but it af­fects us dis­pro­por­tion­ately be­cause of our long coast­line.

In the USA, a nine-year-old boy launched the Be Straw Free cam­paign af­ter he saw footage of a tur­tle with a plas­tic straw stuck in its nose: the ob­ject is to per­suade con­sumers to refuse the straws that are rou­tinely added to soft drinks served in restau­rants. A tax of 5p on car­rier bags has led to dra­matic re­duc­tions in their use, so let’s have de­posits on bot­tles to en­cour­age their re­turn and re­use. In­ter­net shop­pers should rebel against the swathes of pack­ag­ing.

We have the Na­tional Trust’s op­er­a­tion Nep­tune from the 1960s to thank for sav­ing our shores from the hideous overde­vel­op­ment seen in some Mediter­ranean coun­tries, but now, surely, we need a sim­i­lar cam­paign for beau­ti­ful but run­down sea­side towns and vil­lages, whose com­mu­ni­ties are among the most de­prived in the land. We’ll al­ways be sur­rounded by sea, but that doesn’t mean we should take it for granted.

‘Be­ing sur­rounded by sea is part of our na­tional iden­tity, but we don’t al­ways treat it well

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