Protecting and exploiting the marine environment: have we got the balance right?
Professor Stuart Rogers, MSc PhD OBE
Professor Stuart Rogers is the former Chief Scientist at Cefas (the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science), an Executive Agency of Defra. He spent his career at Cefas with roles in the North Wales Conwy Laboratory, and at the current HQ in Lowestoft, where he tackled some of the biggest challenges facing the world’s ocean and society including food security, climate change, nature loss and pollution. His key achievements include advising on UK policy and EU Directives necessary to achieve good environmental status, and taking an active role in developing the first UK Marine Strategy in 2015. He provided much-needed international leadership in OSPAR and the EU to raise standards and drive action to achieve a healthy and productive ocean.
As the head of profession to over 500 expert marine and freshwater scientists and technicians he led advisers in the complex EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement fisheries negotiations in 2020, and provided scientific leadership during the establishment of the UK’s Overseas Territory Blue Belt Programme in 2016. By 2020 this had designated over 4.3million sq. km of Marine Protected Areas. He was also pivotal in the provision of the science and advice to enable the designation of England’s Marine Conservation Zones, with 91 designated by 2019, protecting 220,000 sq. km of marine habitats and species.
He has published extensively on marine ecosystem objectives and helped to develop a range of practical ecosystem indicators to assess progress towards our vision for the marine environment. His science has played a major role in establishing the importance of ecosystem considerations when making decisions about the sustainable use of our seas and ocean.
Professor Rogers is currently an Honorary Professor at the University of East Anglia and a Trustee of the Marine Biological Association, based in Plymouth.
During his talk Professor Rogers will give a brief introduction to Cefas science and advice, describe early discoveries in UK fisheries and oceanography, and give an overview of research highlights from the years of rapid expansion in the 60’s and 70’s. The talk will address how to achieve sustainable development of our seas and ocean, and will explain how and why decisions are made to protect our seas, and to exploit goods and services for societal gain. The talk will describe how the demand for increased food supply for a growing population, the need for minerals, hydrocarbons and renewable energy, and other products and services, have put pressure on UK and global seas. Case studies from the UK and international waters will be used to show how increasing seawater temperature and sea levels, and corresponding changes to the distribution and abundance of traditional fish species, are transforming our marine environment and will continue to do so over coming decades. Changes to environmental conditions will also lead to a greater prevalence of harmful pathogens and biotoxins, and the occurrence of invasive non-native species, for which greater preparations will be needed. Finally, Professor Rogers will show how recent political pressure and international leadership by the UK has led to a step change in our understanding of the seas, and has resulted in tangible progress in their protection, making sustainable management practices a societal expectation.