Written by Elaine Hayes, Plymouth Sound National Marine Park Interim Chief Executive  

If you want to write a Blog there is heaps of guidance about the number of words it should be, frequency of blogging (even a whole new language). Leaving aside the structural stuff much of the guidance talks about having the desire to write about subjects the author feels passionate about…aha now we are getting somewhere!

I think if they existed I would have been born a mermaid but before you develop a picture in your mind of beautiful blondes wearing very little – forget it! Yes blonde but the similarity ends there! I was fortunate to have been brought up near the sea with a Dad who was passionate about nature and fishing so there are many good films of me as a young child doddering about on a shingle beach.

So passionate was my Dad about fishing that left unattended on a river bank with my brother and sister I nearly drowned. That is definitely a story for another blog and a reason why I am also passionate about kids being able to swim.

So back to being passionate about the sea – I have led a charmed life working for causes and organisations that are truly inspirational but when the leader of  Plymouth City Council decided to declare a National Marine Park I was delighted. I had been involved in some of the early discussions having been Chair of Devon and Severn Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority. Then the opportunity arose to become the CEO of the UK’s first National Marine Park and I was appointed to what many have called “the dream job!”

But today’s blog is really about addressing the elephant (seal) in the room – namely what is a National Marine Park?

Creating a definition is not as easy as you may think – depending on who you speak to you may be told that it is to protect the sea and its creatures, it’s for recreation, it’s to support people to come to the sea and to benefit from it, it is to provide Plymouth with a lever to encourage investment. I think the short answer is that it will be all of those things. We aim to develop a national marine park that is truly sustainable where we balance the needs of economy, the environment and the people.

Plymouth has declared a climate emergency and we will all have to work hard to achieve that ambition but we need to do this through innovation, through the development of new technologies that will bring a smaller carbon footprint, more and better paid jobs through using our National Marine Park as a catalyst for innovation.

What is most important is that we listen to all the views around the NMP and seek to weave in the ambitions of all. Through the declaration of the Plymouth Sound National Marine Park we will shape a future for Plymouth that looks to the sea and the coast to bring us all a more sustainable future.