Stamford Raffles Lecture 2014 - The past and future of life in UK seas

We are fortunate in the UK to be surrounded by some of the most productive seas on the planet. They have nourished us and promoted our wellbeing for thousands of years. However, in the last two centuries, the expansion and industrialisation of fishing has triggered a transformation of the environment that has accelerated towards the present. Worrying trends include decreased abundance and variety of life, collapse of fisheries and loss of biodiversity, including the disappearance of large species like skates, angel sharks, bluefin tuna and wolffish.

This is happening as the oceans change under the influence of other forces, including development, greenhouse gas emissions and discharge of other pollutants. Despite growing recognition that our seas need better management, current policy falls far short, affording too little protection and failing to address the major causes of harm. In this talk, Callum Roberts will describe how our seas once were, what they have become and what it will take to recover the richness, vitality and spectacle that they are losing.

Ticket prices

£20 Full price

£15 for Fellows, Members, Students and Children

This event is now sold out.


For further information please contact Megan Orpwood-Russell
Tel: 020 7449 6227

Callum Roberts

Callum Roberts is Professor of Marine Conservation at the University of York. His research focuses on threats to marine ecosystems and species, and on finding the means to protect them. His research interests include documenting the impacts of fishing on marine life, both historic and modern, and exploring the effectiveness of marine protected areas. For the last 25 years he has used his science background to make the case for stronger protection for marine life at both national and international levels. His award winning book, The Unnatural History of the Sea, charts the effects of 1000 years of exploitation on ocean life.

Callum Roberts - Professor of Marine Conservation
Callum’s most recent book, Ocean of Life: How Our Seas Are Changing, was shortlisted for the Royal Society Winton Science Book Prize. It charts the accelerating rate of damage to the oceans, revealing how we are on a path to self-destruction without an urgent change of course. His research team provided the scientific underpinning for a network of six high seas marine protected areas covering 285,000 km2 of the north Atlantic that was declared in 2010. Callum is a WWF UK Ambassador, Trustee of Seaweb, Fauna and Flora International and Blue Marine Foundation, and Advisor to Save our Seas and The Manta Trust.