A blueprint for the blue space on the horizon

Key players from Plymouth’s business, education and marine sector have met for the first time to steer the city towards the delivery of the Plymouth Sound National Marine Park.

Last September, the University of Plymouth was among a number of partners to create a Declaration of Intent for the UK’s first National Marine Park to be created in Britain’s Ocean City.

Now a project board has been formed to ensure that decisions about creating the park are made collaboratively for the benefit of all users and stakeholders.

It includes representatives from the University, the Royal Navy, Plymouth City Council, business sector, community, research and environmental organisations. 

Over the next 12 months the board will be responsible for the development and delivery of the National Marine Park programme as it completes a feasibility study and five year business plan.

It will involve talking to a lot of people and organisations covering many marine and maritime interests, defence, commercial fishing, angling, marine technology, visitor economy, research, as well as the natural environment.

Professor Richard Thompson OBE, Director of the University’s Marine Institute, is on the project board. He said:

“Plymouth Sound provides an unrivalled living laboratory for scientific research. This highly complex body of water encompasses a strategic port, a marine technology test ground, naval base, recreational hub, fisheries and world class marine research. The city is the home of marine research, with The Marine Biological Association of the UK, Plymouth Marine Laboratory and the University of Plymouth collaborating to advance knowledge and understanding. Alongside the National Marine Aquarium, our waters have heritage in scientific discovery and learning. Looking forward, the NMP offers an unrivalled opportunity to develop and inform best practice for sustainable economic growth in line with the aspirations of the UN Decade of the Oceans 2021 to 2030.”

Council leader Tudor Evans OBE, also a BSc (Hons) Environmental Science graduate, said:

“This is big. It is a momentous day. This is the start of a five year development plan – a blueprint for the blue space in and around our amazing city – and I am thrilled with the calibre of the people we have on board. We’ve a lot of work to do and some really exciting projects in the pipeline. Our role will be to steer this incredible project so that those who make their living from the sea, who play in the sea or even have no connection to the sea, can benefit from the ocean and greater city connections to it.”

Jackie Grubb, Chief Executive of City College Plymouth, added:

“The next generation want us to be responsible and considered with our environment. The National Marine Park offers us a way to create grass roots connections with the ocean through formal and informal learning and create new career and health and wellbeing opportunities.”