The majority of aquatic litter originates from land based sources. Therefore, I believe the best approach to stemming the flow of plastic is by taking action on land. The UK's world-leading ban on microbeads will help stop potentially billions of tiny pieces of plastic from entering the aquatic environment every year, and over 15.6 billion fewer bags have been handed out to shoppers since the introduction of the plastic bag charge. I am pleased that following an open consultation, a ban on the supply of plastic straws - excluding those needed for medical purposes - drinks stirrers and cotton buds will come into force. It is thought that 5-10% of all marine debris in European seas are cotton bud stems, so this will go some way to putting an end to this problem.
A review will shortly be launched into whether and how Highly Protected Marine Areas, the strongest form of marine protection, could be introduced in England. This will help inform the UK Government's work to expand and strengthen the UK's Blue Belt to create richer habitats for marine life. In Scotland, where legislation on this issue is devolved, the Scottish Government is working with Marine Scotland to protect our habitats and species from environmental damage.