Coastal communities across the UK rely on the ocean for food, jobs, and recreation. But as environmental and economic pressures grow, natural ecosystems are being pushed to their limit. We need a new vision for coastal communities, one that delivers good jobs and economic prosperity now and for future generations.

From small fishing villages to large seaside resorts, coastal communities in the UK owe their livelihoods to the marine environment. But over the years the absence of social and environmental goals in some of our key coastal and marine industries – such as fishing, energy, and tourism – has put this relationship under threat.

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.

The Blue New Deal sets a vision for revitalising coastal communities and protecting the natural resources they depend on. Our aim is to balance the economic and social needs of communities with those of our marine environment, ensuring their return to prosperity. The UK coast and seas are assets to our society, and we want to see thriving communities full of happy, active people who are able to enjoy and benefit from healthy seas.

These are not conflicting interests. Previous NEF research has highlighted the untapped potential of the UK’s abundant natural resources – a healthier marine environment can support more and better jobs, increased resilience to economic and environmental challenges, sustainable sources of food and energy, increased wellbeing, and healthier and more sustainable lifestyles.

For the fishing industry, for example, NEF analysis shows that restoring UK fish stocks to healthy levels and promoting lower carbon emissions through quota allocation across the main UK fishing fleets would mean an extra 457,000 tonnes of fish landed each year, leading to an additional £268 million GVA (Gross Value Added) and a 24% increase in employment, the equivalent of 4,922 new jobs.

We want to open a conversation with coastal communities to share ideas and plan development in their areas which will deliver better value to them and to wider society. Our vision of the Blue New Deal covers five broad areas for discussion:

  • sustainable fisheries and aquaculture
  • renewable energy
  • coastal tourism and related activities
  • innovative approaches to coastal management
  • opportunities to re-connect people with nature

This report sets out a number of innovative and sustainable approaches already taking place across the UK coast – proof that change is possible. Over the next two years we will work in collaboration to develop our vision of prosperous, sustainable coastal communities where people and nature can thrive together, and make it a reality.

The Blue New Deal aims to deliver stronger economies for UK coastal communities through a healthier marine environment. Help us make it happen by engaging with this initiative at: www.bluenewdeal.org