SfAM responds to inquiry on sustainable seas - News & Features
21 May 2018
The Society for Applied Microbiology has submitted written evidence to a House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee inquiry on sustainable seas. The Select Committee, chaired by Mary Creagh MP, is seeking information on the issues surrounding the future of our seas, including the impact of climate change, ocean acidification, overfishing and pollution. It looks to assess the nature and extent of these threats, as well as to look at what the UK government can do to respond to them.
The Marine Microbiome
Understanding the role of marine microbes is essential when assessing the state of our oceans. A diverse range of microbes play a variety of important roles in the marine ecosystem. Disruption of the marine microbiome by various factors such as climate change can therefore affect the entire marine ecology. Furthermore, ocean microbiomes may be acting as large reservoirs of antimicrobial resistance genes.
The study of marine microbes also presents possible opportunities, including new solutions to many of the future threats to our seas. Ocean microbes may play roles in plastic recycling, drug manufacture and the production of renewable energy.
Microbial Diversity and Sustainable Industry
SfAM presents a number of key recommendations to the UK Government's approach to our seas:
- Utilise the UK’s access to marine ecosystems worldwide, including those around its overseas territories to extract as much data on the health of these ecosystems as possible. Assessing microbial diversity may help us to define what constitutes a ‘healthy’ ocean.
- Encourage marine-based businesses to invite surveyors of microbial biodiversity to be present at their marine sites (e.g. fishing boats or oil rigs).
- Invest in pioneering research into the potential uses of marine microbes to help clean up pollutants such as plastics and oil, as well for the development of new products and biofuels.