The UK has a proud maritime history, but how is our relationship with the sea changing, and what are the implications? These are the questions considered in the latest Government Office for Science Foresight report – the Future of the Sea.
The sea underpins all life on earth; it regulates global temperature, stores CO2, and produces half of our oxygen. It also provides numerous social and economic benefits, underpinning some of the UK’s largest industries, and facilitating the 95% of our trade that is seaborne.
This relationship is changing. Emerging technologies, such as autonomy, will transform the marine economy, creating new opportunities to explore and work in the sea. Blue Planet 2 brought to the public’s attention the environmental challenges facing the sea. A growing global population will lead to busier seas and potentially greater demand for its resources. These changes offer significant opportunities for the UK to lead.
This report synthesises the best available interdisciplinary science, evidence and long-term thinking, with contributions from industry and UK coastal communities. It considers the implications for the UK’s economic activity, environmental policy, and international engagement, and makes 20 recommendations for how to respond.
Lord Ahmad, Minister of State for the Commonwealth and UN, Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Prof Chris Whitty, Interim Government Chief Scientific Adviser
Sir Mark Walport, CEO of UKRI and former Government Chief Scientific Adviser (2013-2017)
Prof Ian Boyd, Chief Scientific Adviser, Defra
Prof Ed Hill, Executive Director, National Oceanography Centre