Glossary & abbreviations

Apex predator – predators that have no predators of their own, residing at the top of their food chain. Apex predators occupy the highest trophic level and have a crucial role in maintaining the health of their ecosystems.

Archipelago – a chain or cluster of islands, sometimes called an island group.

Benthic – the benthic zone is the lowest level of a body of water in the ocean and includes the seabed. Benthic species are those that live on or in close proximity to the seabed.

Biodiversity – a measure of the variety of life forms within a given habitat or ecosystem. Biodiversity is used as a measure of ecosystem health, with healthier ecosystems being more diverse.

Biomass – a measure of the biological material in a given habitat or species, often expressed as the weight of organisms per unit area.

CFP – Common Fisheries Policy. Acknowledging that fish move across borders of EU member states, the CFP is used to manage European fisheries in collaboration, to achieve a sustainable EU fishing industry. The CFP is currently undergoing a reform with a view to bring EU fish stocks back to sustainable levels.

CBD – Convention of Biological Diversity. A global agreement addressing all aspects of biological diversity, adopted at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1992 and enforced in 1993, providing a legal framework for the conservation of biodiversity.

Continental shelf – the extended perimeter of each continent that is submerged under the sea.

Crown Dependencies ­– self-governing possessions of the British Crown. They are; the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands (Bailiwick of Jersey, Bailiwick of Guernsey). None form part of the UK or the European Union.

The Crown Estatea property business, governed by an Act of Parliament and responsible for managing the property owned by the Crown. The Crown Estate manages virtually the entire UK seabed out to the 12 nautical mile limit.

Defra – Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Defra is the UK government department responsible for policy and regulations relating to the natural environment, biodiversity, plants, animals, sustainable development, the green economy, food, farming and fisheries, and rural affairs.

Discards – (in fishing terms) the portion of catch hauled up by fishermen that is not retained and instead returned to the sea, often dead or dying.

EEZ – exclusive economic zone. The sea zone surrounding a country or state, which that state has jurisdiction over, and within which has special rights over the exploration and use of marine resources. For the majority of countries, the EEZ stretches out to 200 nautical miles from the coast. The UK has the fifth largest EEZ in the world because it comprises of the UK, Crown Dependencies and the 14 UK Overseas Territories.

Ecosystem – the interaction of a community of organisms within an environment. An ecosystem can describe a very specific system, such as a coral reef, or be used to broadly describe the marine ecosystem.

Elasmobranch – a subclass of cartilaginous fish (Chondrichythyes) that include sharks, rays and skates.

FAO – Fisheries and Aquaculture Department. Within the FAO, the Fisheries and Aquaculture Department produces ‘The State of the World Fisheries and Aquaculture’ report every two years, which provides a comprehensive and objective view of capture fisheries and aquaculture worldwide.

High seas – international waters outside the jurisdiction of any sole nation. The high seas account for 64% of the world’s ocean (for more information visit the High Seas Alliance).

Inshore waters – waters from the coastline out to 12 nautical miles.

Intertidal zone – the area above water at low tide and below water at high tide, also known as the ‘seashore’.

Marine reserve – a type of marine protected area, fully protected from all extractive and potentially damaging activities, such as fishing, dredging, aquaculture and mining. Often described as ‘no-take zones’.

MCZ – marine conservation zone. A new type of marine protected area, being introduced in England through the Marine and Coastal Act (2009).

MPA – marine protected area. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) describes a protected area as; a clearly defined geographical space, recognised, dedicated and managed, through legal or other effective means, to achieve the long-term conservation of nature with associated ecosystem services and cultural values. The management of MPAs can range from stopping the use of destructive fishing gears, such as bottom trawling, to prohibiting all fishing activities and limiting boating activity. For more information see the IUCN Guidelines for Applying the IUCN Protected Area Management Categories to Marine Protected Areas.

MSY – maximum sustainable yield. The largest yield, advised by scientists, that can be taken from a stock before it has significant negative impacts on the stock’s sustainability.

Natura 2000 Network – a Europe-wide network of nature protection areas, consisting of Special Protection Areas (established under the Birds Directive, 1979) and Special Areas of Conservation (established under the Habitats Directive, 1992).

NTZ no-take zone. Within these zones, all extractive and potentially damaging activities are prohibited. Marine reserves are no-take zones.

Offshore waters - waters beyond 12 nautical miles and up to the EEZ.

Pelagic – the area of ocean that is neither near to the shore or the seabed; the open ocean.

SAC special area of conservation. Designated by EU Member States under the Habitats Directive. There are currently 107 SACs with marine components in the UK. For more information visit the Joint Nature Conservation Committee.

SPA special protection area. Designated under the 1979 Birds Directive. There are currently 107 SPAs with marine components in the UK. For more information visit the Joint Nature Conservation Committee.

Spill-over effect – surplus larvae and adult fish spill from within a marine reserve into adjacent waters outside reserve boundaries. This occurs when larvae are carried by currents, or when fish stocks grow and saturate the marine reserve and naturally begin to spill out into less crowded waters.

Squalene – a natural organic compound found in shark liver oil, as well as some plant sources such as olive oil and wheat germ.

Squalane – not to be confused with squalene, this derivative of squalene has a longer shelf life and is therefore preferred by the cosmetic industry. Squalane is not found in nature, but instead derived by the hydrogenation of squalene.

Trophic cascade – when predators in a food web supress the abundance or behaviours of their prey, releasing the next trophic level from predation. A top down cascade is when the food chain is disrupted by the removal of a top predator. A bottom up cascade occurs when primary producers are removed.

Trophic levels – the position that an organism occupies in the food chain. Food levels start at trophic level one with primary producers such as plants. The number of steps an animal is from the start of the food chain is a measure of its trophic level.

UK Overseas Territories (UKOTs) – territories that are under the jurisdiction of the UK. They are those parts of the British Empire that have not acquired independence and share the British monarch. These are:  Anguilla, Bermuda, British Antarctic Territory, British Indian Ocean Territory (including Chagos), British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, Pitcairn Islands, St Helena and St Helena Dependencies (Ascension and Tristan da Cunha), South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands, Soverign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia, and The Turks & Caicos Islands.

Upwelling – wind-driven movement of the ocean, causing cooler denser water to rise to the surface and replace warmer waters. The cool waters are often rich in nutrients and stimulate primary production, which is why upwelling areas are often hotspots for marine life and targeted by commercial fisheries.

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Restoring the oceans will take time. We need to act now.