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‘Motion for the Ocean’ swims upstream

November 9, 2022

‘Motion for the Ocean’ swims upstream

Blandford Forum becomes the first inland council to commit to ocean recovery by passing the ‘Motion for the Ocean’

Blandford Forum Town Council has become the first inland council to pass the ‘Motion for the Ocean’, a model motion of pledges declaring an urgent need for Ocean Recovery and committing councils to embed ocean recovery in their strategic planning and decision-making processes and to grow ocean literacy and marine citizenship in their regions.

In passing the motion, Blandford Forum Town Council recognises the importance of river management for ocean health, and the benefit of people connecting with rivers for their wellbeing and connection to nature. Building on the success of the ‘Motion for the Ocean’, an updated model motion has been developed to support other inland councils wishing to play their part in ocean recovery. The inland pledges take a source-to-sea approach to ocean health, helping inland councils demonstrate their commitment to act as custodians of rivers, waterways and tributaries in their area.

The evidence-based ‘Motion for the Ocean’ was first passed by Plymouth City Council in November 2021 and soon followed by Falmouth Town Council and South Tyneside Council in January 2022. Thirteen councils have so far made an Ocean Recovery Declaration, representing nearly 1.7 million residents.

The model motion was written by marine social science Research Fellow at Exeter University, and former Plymouth City Councillor, Dr Pamela Buchan; marine and coastal specialist and former Lead Officer of the Local Government Association (LGA) Coastal Special Interest Group, Emily Cunningham; and Head of Ocean Advocacy and Engagement at the Ocean Conservation Trust, Nicola Bridge. The model Motion for the Ocean, and the council pledges, can all be viewed on the LGA Coastal SIG website who’s Chair, Cllr Ernest Gibson, advocates for the motion as it “supports a healthy environment, promotes healthy communities and sustainable economies”.

Inland councils have an important role to play

Cllr Pat Osborne, Blandford Forum Town Council, said: “The River Stour has a very special place in the hearts of Blandfordians, connecting us to one another through a shared sense of place, belonging and identity. The Stour also connects us to the wildlife and ecosystems that it supports, providing generations with the opportunity to live alongside otters, swans, kingfishers and other creatures thriving in their natural habitats. It links us all to the other communities that have built up along the banks on its journey from Stourhead to the sea. And through connecting us to the sea, the Stour connects us to the rest of the world.

“Inland communities, like Blandford, have an important role to play in ocean recovery by acting as the custodians of the rivers, waterways and tributaries that run through our towns and villages on their way to the sea. As a town council, our powers are clearly limited, but the Motion for the Ocean recognises that there are things that we can and should do to contribute to ocean recovery… The fact that the motion was passed unanimously by the council sends a clear statement of intent.”

Click here to view the Motion for the Ocean adopted by the Town Council on 25th July 2022

Connecting people to the ocean in sustainable ways

“Climate change has never been as visible or evident across the UK as it has throughout the summer of 2022. The need for ocean recovery to mitigate some of the worst impacts of the climate emergency and support the wellbeing and prosperity of coastal communities is urgent,” said Dr Pamela Buchan, who proposed the motion that was adopted by the city of Plymouth. “For too long, the ocean has been side-lined in climate debates and taken for granted by our island nation, but people and politicians are beginning to understand that we can’t mitigate the devastating impacts of climate change without addressing how we use and manage our coastal and ocean environments.

“My research as a marine social scientist shows that connecting emotionally with the sea and feeling dependent upon it for your wellbeing are really important factors in motivating people to take marine environmental action. This coastal motion recognises that we need to connect people to the ocean in sustainable ways, rather than excluding them from it, while the inland motion supports ocean literacy and developing connections with the ocean through the rivers that flow into it. We need to change our approach to how we use the sea so that it can recover from our harmful impacts. I hope that people from all around the UK will feel empowered to act as marine citizens and ask local councillors to support and adopt the model Ocean Recovery Declaration Motion.”

Asking for action from inland communities

Emily Cunningham marine and coastal specialist said: “No matter how far inland we live, we all impact and are impacted by the ocean. All councils, no matter their size or location, have powers to influence ocean health – for better or for worse. It is heartening that inland councils such as Blandford Forum Town Council recognise that it is not only the responsibility of coastal councils to take care of our shared ocean and I congratulate Cllr Pat Osborne and colleagues for their leadership in becoming the first truly inland council to pass our Motion for the Ocean and commit to local action for ocean recovery. We hope that other inland councils will now follow, and in doing so join the thirteen councils that are already working to turn these commitments into action. After all, a healthy ocean is essential to all of us, wherever we call home.”

Ocean health is essential for human health

Nicola Bridge, Head of Ocean Advocacy and Engagement at the Ocean Conservation Trust, said “All of our work at the Ocean Conservation Trust is centred around people. Our Think Ocean Challenge is designed specifically to bring the ocean to the forefront of people’s minds and help them to think about the ocean in their everyday lives. For too long, the ocean has been missing from discussions at local and national government levels, meaning that decisions are made that do not reflect the importance of a healthy ocean. At policy level, ocean health is not recognised as essential for human health. We are pleased to have been part of the creation of this model ‘Ocean Recovery Motion’ and hope to see councils across the UK adopting it and taking steps towards better recognition of the importance of ocean health.”


Link to model motion for Ocean Recovery for marine citizens: ocean/

Link to model motion for Ocean Recovery for councils:



Plymouth City Council                  22/11/2021

Falmouth Town Council               20/01/2022

South Tyneside Council               13/01/2022

North Norfolk District council        09/02/2022

North Devon Council                   23/02/2022

Monmouthshire Council               03/03/2022

Seaton with Slingley Parish Council        16/03/2022

Seaham Town Council                 22/03/2022

Torridge District Council               11/04/2022

Portsmouth City Council              17/05/2022

Devon County Council                 27/05/2022

Blandford Forum Town Council    25/07/2022

Teignbridge District Council                   26/07/2022


Dr Pamela Buchan is a marine social scientist who specialises in marine citizenship research at Exeter University (report and full thesis). She was a Labour Party Councillor in Plymouth from 2018 until retiring in 2022. Pamela is Vice Chair of the Devon & Severn Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority and a duty holder at the Cattewater Harbour Commissioners. //

Emily Cunningham is a marine and coastal specialist and former Lead Officer of the Local Government Association Coastal Special Interest Group, a group of 57 local authorities from around England working together on coastal issues. Emily specialises in working with coastal communities to increase access to, benefits from, and stewardship of, the ocean. / /

Nicola Bridge, is the Head of Ocean Advocacy and Engagement at the Ocean Conservation Trust, Chair of the Conservation Education Committee of the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA), and President of EMSEA (European Marine Science Educators) The Ocean Conservation Trust is a global conservation charity. It has been running the UK’s largest aquarium the much-loved National Marine Aquarium for the past 22 years as a centre of excellence in Ocean education and community engagement, alongside innovative conservation projects across the globe. Recognising that to protect nature, you have to start with people, the OCT focus on behaviour change and habitat restoration, taking an optimistic and solutions-based approach centred around physical and emotional connections with nature. The charity’s approach puts people at the centre, working hard to create meaningful connections to the Ocean as the first step to inspiring long-term behaviour change. This work is done in tandem with on the ground monitoring and restoration of crucial Ocean habitats, with a particular focus on seagrasses. For more details or to request high resolution imagery, please contact:


Last modified: November 9, 2022

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