BY KATIE - MYGREENPOD, 5 July '15

A revitalised UK coastline would boost local economies

A new report from the New Economics Foundation (NEF) marks the launch of a UK-wide initiative to create stronger economies in UK coastal communities and to restore the health of the marine environment.

It reveals that the absence of social and environmental goals in key coastal and marine industries over the years has placed undue pressure on coastal economies, communities and the environment, meaning many coastal economies are now in decline.

As traditional industries have failed, communities are experiencing high levels of inequality, increased unemployment, and lower wages. At the same time, ecosystems and habitats are suffering from overfishing, pollution, and the effects of climate change.

Revitalising the coast

The Blue New Deal initiative, led by the NEF, calls for a transformation in the way the UK’s wealth of marine assets is handled. The project will show how coastal areas can be revitalised to deliver good jobs and economic sustainability for coastal communities in the future.

The NEF has found that better management of UK fish stocks could create 4,922 new jobs, and that a healthy coast would benefit key coastal industries, including renewable energy and fisheries, and improve the wellbeing of local communities.

‘As an island nation, the UK has access to a considerable wealth of natural resources. But our failure to properly manage them has told a story of unfulfilled potential — fewer jobs, lower revenues, unnecessary public costs, and unsustainable coastal economies. We want to deliver more and better jobs for coastal communities and the marine environment plays a key role to help achieve that.

‘Over the next year, we will work with actors across the UK to identify solutions and practical measures to improve the health of our marine and coastal ecosystems to address these challenges. There are great examples of innovative and sustainable approaches already happening around the UK coast — we need to put in place the incentives and policies to encourage action on a national scale.’

Fernanda Balata, project lead, Coastal and Marine Environment, New Economics Foundation

Help for coastal communities

The Blue New Deal identifies five key policy areas that offer the opportunity to respond to the different socio-economic and environmental challenges that the UK’s coastal communities currently face.

These include sustainable fisheries and aquaculture, innovative coastal management, renewable energy, responsible tourism and re-connecting people with Nature.

‘The COAST initiative on the Isle of Arran is built around the concept that if the marine environment thrives, then everyone dependent on it will too. The Lamlash Bay No Take Zone is recovering well and this success is expected to have a positive effect on the surrounding waters, benefiting scallop divers and creelers that work within the newly created South Arran MPA. It also helps generate many tens of thousands of pounds for the local economy.

‘The need to restore marine habitats and properly manage these ecosystems for the benefit of society and the economy is not unique to The Clyde. What’s really exciting is that other groups across the country are waking up to the huge potential of our marine environment. The Blue New Deal is a welcome initiative to build on and strengthen this momentum.’

Howard Wood, chair and co-founder of COAST (The Community of Arran Seabed Trust)

Over the next year, NEF will work with several partners – from local councils and national government departments to entrepreneurs and industry representatives – to develop a nationwide action plan.

Regional approaches

There are several regional approaches that are already working across the UK. From investment in renewable energy to innovative management of our coastal environment, these projects show that it’s possible to create more jobs and support sustainable business through a healthier marine environment.

The Medmerry Realignment Scheme, West Sussex, is an innovative coastal defence that has saved £300,000 in taxpayers’ money each year and attracted year-round business opportunities by protecting the environment and town infrastructure from flooding.

Tidal Energy Ltd. Pembrokeshire is a new tidal energy initiative to create new jobs and power 10,000 homes by 2017.

COAST (The Community of Arran Seabed Trust) on the Isle of Arran is a community-led project that promotes better protection of the marine environment to the benefit of people and the economy.

The Venus Company is a thriving chain of beachside cafés that prioritise environmental and social considerations in order to create sustainable employment.

Click here to find out more bout the New Economics Foundation.