The role of the committee, which is made up of 16 cross-party MPs, is to consider the extent to which the policies and programmes of Government departments and public bodies contribute to environmental protection and sustainable development, and to audit their performance against set targets.

Its Sustainable Seas inquiry “will shine a spotlight on the threats to our ocean, and ask what more the Government could be doing to protect it,” said the committee’s Chair Mary Creagh MP.

“We will look at emerging marine industries, and how the Government can build a sustainable ‘blue’ economy.”

The value to the UK of marine biodiversity has been estimated as being in the trillions of pounds, says the committee.

With 14 overseas territories including thousands of coral atolls making up 90% of its marine biodiversity, the UK is responsible for more than 2.6 million square miles of ocean – almost 30 times the size of the UK itself.

The UK signed up to the Aichi Biodiversity Targets to ensure that 10% of the ocean is conserved and protected by 2020, yet only 3% has been protected so far.

In September the United Nations is due to launch an intergovernmental conference on marine-biodiversity conservation.

The inquiry is focusing on three main areas: impact of environmental changes and the legal framework protecting ocean biodiversity; achieving a sustainable blue economy; and the impact of marine industries, science and innovation, and blue finance.

Submissions of up to 3000 words need to be received from individuals or organisations by 16 May here.

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