Cefas to partner on government’s support to protect the world’s oceans with boost for marine recovery

13 August 2021

man walking on beach with litter

Cefas scientists will be supporting new programmes to work with international and UK partners to tackle marine pollution and support adoption of sustainable seafood practices.


Projects to tackle climate change and protect the world’s oceans have been given a major boost with the first £16.2 million of funding from the UK’s £500 million Blue Planet Fund announced today.

The programmes, financed from the UK’s overseas aid budget, will increase marine protection, tackle plastic pollution and the decline of global coral reefs, as well as using the UK’s world-leading expertise to help respond to marine pollution disasters such as the Xpress Pearl in Sri Lanka.

The ocean is a critical carbon sink which every year absorbs almost a third of global CO2 emissions. Around the globe, the ocean supports the livelihoods of one in every ten people, including some of the poorest and most vulnerable.

In the run up to the UK hosting the COP26 climate talks in November, the government is working with developing countries to take action to protect and restore our oceans.

The projects receiving funding include the launch of a new UK-led programme which will help developing countries partner with the UK’s world-leading scientists to better manage marine protected areas, and improve our understanding of the impacts of climate change and contaminants in the ocean.

The Ocean Country Partnership Programme (OCPP) already has work underway with UK scientists at the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) providing analysis of water samples from Sri Lanka to contribute to the ongoing response to the Xpress Pearl environmental disaster in June.

Cefas, based in Lowestoft and Weymouth, in partnership with JNCC and MMO will provide technical assistance to support countries to tackle marine pollution, support sustainable seafood practices and establish designated, well-managed and enforced MPAs.


Environment Secretary, George Eustice, said: 

"The UK is a global leader in marine protection and will continue to advocate for ambitious climate and ocean action at COP26 this year.

"Our shared ocean is a vital resource and provides habitat to precious marine life, as well as supporting the livelihoods of one in every ten people worldwide.

"The Blue Planet Fund will support many developing countries on the front line of climate change to reduce poverty and improve the health of their seas."


Ed McManus, OCPP Programme Director at Cefas, said:

“We are pleased to be building on the successes of our existing international collaborations to deliver the Ocean Country Partnership Programme’s (OCPP) work to tackle marine pollution and support sustainable seafood. Together, our work will help to safeguard human and animal health, enable food security and support marine economies.

"We’re pleased to be working with Defra - who fund the programme - partners overseas in host countries, and with UK experts from JNCC and the MMO.”


The OCPP Marine Pollution strand will build on work in countries where Cefas and UK marine partnerships are already active, as well as forge new relationships in priority regions. Building on the successes of the Commonwealth Litter Programme (CLiP), Cefas will use its experience of collaborating internationally on these challenges to develop innovative science techniques and analyses to tackle marine pollution under the OCPP. This work will primarily be delivered from our Lowestoft laboratory.

Through the application of Cefas’ One Health Aquaculture approach pioneered in the Weymouth laboratory, partner countries within the OCPP will be equipped with the skills and expertise needed to support the adoption of sustainable seafood practices, reducing the risk of negative impacts from unsustainable activities (e.g. spread of zoonotic disease) and subsequently improving the livelihoods, environments, and economies of partner countries.

For more information on the Blue Planet Fund, see Gov.UK.