British marine wildlife at risk

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Britain s marine life is at continuing risk from human activity according to a report from the World Wide Fund for Nature.

In its Marine Health Check Update, the conservation organisation outlined the current status of Atlantic salmon, Harbour porpoises and other ~flagship species and habitats " showing no improvement since the turn of the century.

As the new Marine and Coastal Access Bill is finalised in parliament, the WWF-UK said that they hope in five years time, these species will have started to recover thanks to strong and effective legislation.

In the latest Marine Health Check Update, the WWF-UK suggests that current legislation is not doing enough to protect British marine biodiversity from human-induced pressures including fishing, oil and gas exploitation and climate change.

The WWF-UK report that Harbour porpoises, heavily protected by law, are in decline around the UK as a result of intensive fishing practices, while numbers of Atlantic salmon also continue to decline.

Pink sea fans, although no longer considered to be in decline, have not shown any signs of recovery from previous damage due to fishing practices; however, the status of Sea grass " which provides a rich and important habitat for marine life " has been degraded.

Expected to become law in late 2009, the WWF-UK hopes that the Marine and Coastal Access Bill will offer increased protection and help to improve the status of these flagship species.

WWF's Marine Health Check has shown no improvement in the status of iconic species such as the harbour porpoise since the year 2000, said WWF Marine Policy Officer Dr Lynsey Dodds in a statement.

We need to ensure that new legislation will reverse this trend and reduce the many pressures being placed on our most vulnerable species.