All at sea

All at sea

Seaweeds growing in a shallow channel. Cairns of Coll, Island of Coll, Inner Hebrides, Scotland. British Isles. North East Atlantic Ocean. Photographed in July 2011. - Alexander Mustard/2020VISION

Our magical marine wildlife needs us now more than ever...

The temperature of our seas is steadily rising.

Our oceans have been warming since the 1940s and wildlife populations have plummeted. What's more, human impacts on the North Sea are huge and wide-ranging. Every day, our closest sea and its wildlife face a ceaseless onslaught, with clearly devastating results.

The facts

  • Predatory fish in our oceans have declined by over 65% in the last 100 years*. 54% of this decline occurred in the last 40 years - the rate of decline is accelerating.

  • Zooplankton, the foundation of the food chain, has declined by 70% in 50 years**, and common skate now belie their name - very much uncommon and very rarely seen in the North Sea.

  • The climate crisis is hurting everything, including our seabirds. Latest statistics show that local kittiwake populations have been slashed by 50% in just 60 years***.

These are shocking and hard-to-believe statistics. But believe we must, as the time for thought is gone. We must act now if we want to save our seas.

Water is intrinsic to every part of our life.


Over half the world’s oxygen is stored in our oceans, with our every second breath coming from the sea.

When we are born we are 75% water, and - rather wonderfully - human beings have the exactly the same amount of salt in our blood as is in sea water.

We are of the ocean and from the ocean, but have perhaps never been so disconnected from it.


Our vision is for thriving, healthy seas

Seas that are healthy and thriving for both wildlife and people. We need to retain what we still have, while replacing what’s already been massively lost, so much of our work focuses on three core areas of work - Marine Protected Areas, Research, and Innovation and Engagement.

Marine Protected Areas

Otherwise known as ‘nature reserves at sea’, Marine Protected Areas were created to give marine wildlife the space it needs to thrive.

Over 54,000km2 of the North Sea has been protected in the last ten years - Yorkshire Wildlife Trust were instrumental in making these a reality. We are constantly advocating for better legislation and designation, so that our magnificent marine wildlife has the chance it so desperately needs to revive and restore.

Though far out of sight, the seabed is the basis of all life. These protected areas safeguard this vital seabed first and foremost, therefore protecting all other marine species who depend on it.

Careful and constant management of these designated areas is now a top priority, as we need a Nature Recovery Network under the sea, as well as on land. These zones must be managed, monitored, and well-regulated in order for any significant recovery to take place.

The battle for our seas is far from won, and the support of our members is more important than ever when it comes to better legislation.

Common Dolphin

(c) Mike Snelle



Through monitoring and citizen science, we are actively contributing to what we know about North Sea wildlife.

Our dedicated Sea Watch Observer volunteers watch and record the comings and goings from our coast week in, week out – looking for minke and humpback whales, bottlenose dolphins and harbour porpoise.

Through their data gathering, we hope to understand more about these animals. Why do minke whales appear in Yorkshire every summer? Bottlenose dolphins have become a more common sight in our waters in recent years. What is it that they like about Yorkshire waters, and how can we continue to keep that special?

Scientists are now saying we have just ten years to save our seas and creating Marine Protected Areas have an important role to play in helping us achieve this. We need to maintain and strengthen our influence on government, decision makers, businesses and the wider public in order to get anywhere near this target.

Our wildlife needs swift and effective action today, not tomorrow. In just ten years, we know so much more than we ever did about our seas and the wildlife who call it home, but it’s still not nearly enough. This year will see new laws created which will decide how our seas will be managed - now more than ever we must speak up for our seas, sharing our knowledge with those who make decisions and inspiring them to create a future where marine wildlife thrives.

With increased support from our members and partners we will be able to enhance this vital advocacy work and our collective action for marine wildlife.

Support us today

Innovation and Engagement

From plastic to toxic pollutants and litter, up to 80% of what’s now in the sea came from the land. Pollution on land becomes pollution out at sea quickly and inevitably, so we need people to make the connection and take preventative action miles away from the coast as well as on it.

We've been working on a number of projects to engage, empower and inspire people to help us tackle marine pollution, all from our Living Seas Centre at Flamborough Head. And it's not just pollution we're collecting; we're simulatenously gathering evidence and using this as an advocacy tool to lobby businesses and government to take action both location and nationally.

Our seas and our magical marine wildlife need us now more than ever.

As we set sail on this new decade, we’ll hope you’ll join with us in making a commitment to take more progressive action to protect them.

After all, if we were to lose our oceans, then we’d lose ourselves…

Grey seal (Halichoerus grypus) with reflected lights from working harbour, Shetland, Scotland. - Peter Cairns/2020VISION