History will be made in Plymouth when key local, regional and national partners come together to create the UK’s first ever National Marine Park.
Plymouth Sound National Marine Park will aim to showcase to the world the unique and fantastic assets that Britain’s Ocean City has to offer, including an estimated 1,000 different species of marine life, and help boost the economy, attract more visitors, enable funding for research and range of other benefits.
For the first time ever city leaders, experts in the marine and maritime sector and other partners from the public, private, and voluntary sector will be signing to demonstrate their support for making the National Marine Park happen.
Leader of Plymouth City Council, Councillor Tudor Evans OBE, said: “We want to be the UK’s first ever National Marine Park, and it is fantastic that so many partners are getting on board – and we want everyone in Britain’s Ocean City to get behind it. Plymouth, with its historic waterfront, rich maritime heritage, cutting edge marine research and its diversity of sea life is ideally placed to lead the way to create something of significant value locally that can be used to lead the way nationally.
“In recent months we’ve developed some amazing national relationships and engaged with partners and local families via a series of events which has already demonstrated our support for this important project. Becoming the first ever UK National Marine Park is also key to our Joint Local Plan and emerging Visitor Plan.
Lewis Pugh, UN Patron of the Oceans, said: “In the past Plymouth launched many great voyages that changed the history of the world. It is my hope that, in the future, people will look back at Plymouth as the ocean innovator that set the standard for National Marine Parks in Britain and across the globe.”
“The future of our planet will be determined by what happens in our oceans. I have always been proud to be born in the greatest of maritime cities. Today I am particularly proud to see Plymouth leading the charge on ocean protection with this important National Marine Park initiative.”
The Government have also given their backing to Plymouth. Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers said: “Our seas provide great economic opportunities for our world-leading marine sector but they also need our protection.
“I wholeheartedly support the creation of the first National Marine Park, backed by £70,000 of government funding.
“This local initiative shows how communities can come together to protect our marine environments whilst developing their economic potential for the industries that rely on them.
“This government wants us to be the first generation to leave the natural environment in a better state than we found it.
“We are already leading the rest of the world by protecting over 30% of our oceans across the UK and our overseas territories – and I am urging countries around the world to follow our example.
“We’ve also created 91 Marine Protected Areas, expanding the national ‘Blue Belt’ so that it protects more than 40% of English waters.”
Charles Clover, Executive Director of the Blue Marine Foundation, said: “Ours is a great maritime nation which tends to forget its links to the sea. There is nowhere better to rediscover them than in Plymouth Sound, the departure point for so many historic voyages and a natural harbour of great beauty, above and below water. Congratulations to Plymouth for creating the first national marine park.”
Some of the key partners will be signing the Declaration of Intent for Plymouth Sound National Marine Park on Friday 13 September and then on Saturday 14 September there will be a public celebration event from 10am to 2pm on Plymouth Hoe. Open to all, the event will feature live music including Joey the Lips and a samba band, free activities, bouncy castle and free swimming sessions at Tinside Lido. There will also be a chance to find out about how you can get involved in activities in, on and under the sea.
Plymouth-born long distance swimmer and UN Ocean Patron of the Oceans, Lewis Pugh, along with key stakeholders from across Britain’s Ocean City, will be signing the Declaration and there will also be a chance to experience the new 360 degree underwater filming which brings to life Plymouth Sound’s rich and varied marine world through real life footage on Virtual Reality headsets.
Leisure operator Everyone Active has also worked with Plymouth City Council to extend the opening season of Tinside Lido by a week, keeping it available for the event. It will be offering free swimming sessions from 10am – 1pm and 2pm – 5pm on the Saturday.
This historic event also follows a series of successful ‘Sea in the Park’ events which have been taking place at parks across the city taking the ocean to children over the summer holidays to help local people learn more about some of the 1,000 different species living in Plymouth Sound. The event series has been delivered by Plymouth City Council, the Blue Marine Foundation and delivery partners the Marine Biological Association, with support from Plymouth City Bus who provided free travel tickets to children across the city to attend.
Professor Richard Thompson, Director of the Marine Institute at the University of Plymouth, said: “Plymouth Sound is a beautiful natural environment, and one that has contributed to the development of the largest marine research community in the country. The National Marine Park will only strengthen that, and will facilitate new links and collaborations with partners around the world.”
Stuart Elford, Chief Executive of Devon and Plymouth Chamber of Commerce, said: “Devon and Plymouth Chamber of Commerce fully supports plans for Plymouth to be the UK’s first National Marine Park.
“This is a really exciting opportunity to raise the profile of Britain’s Ocean City and it will be fantastic for the local economy, bringing more visitors, opening up funding opportunities for research and other important projects, and attracting investment and more jobs. It would also demonstrate once again that Plymouth is an innovative, forward thinking city, leading the way nationally.”
Councillor Sue Dann, Cabinet Member for Environment and Street Scene said: “We want everyone to enjoy Plymouth Sound, this incredible free resource that we have in Britain’s Ocean city. This year is the 70th anniversary of National Parks in this country, and we think Plymouth should be the first of a series of National Marine Parks.
“So please do come along and get involved with this great event, and support Britain’s Ocean City. We want more people in Plymouth to get involved with our waterfront – shockingly, 17 per cent of children in Plymouth have never been to the beach and we want to change that by getting more people engaged with the ocean through Plymouth Sound.
“Saturday’s event is all about raising the profile of the National Marine Park with Plymouth residents and visitors, and partners demonstrating their support. Once partners have signed the document and the celebration event is finished, the hard work really begins on developing Plymouth as the UK’s first ever National Marine Park.
“This is a process that may take several years as this is a national first, and we will continue to engage with Plymouth residents, local, regional and national organisations and stakeholders to do all we can to make this happen.”