A proposed bill to help Wales becomes a 'net-zero' carbon emitter by 2050 by protecting marine life could go under scrutiny in the Senedd.

Labour MS Joyce Watson hopes to introduce her ‘Blue Carbon’ Bill via a members bill ballot, due to take place on Wednesday, September 22. If selected, MS’s will debate, scrutinise and vote on the plan.

The Mid and West Wales representative’s bid is backed by the Marine Conservation Society, and could see steps to 'decarbonise' Welsh fishing vessels, and establish ‘blue carbon protection zones’ to provide additional protection for key blue carbon stores and habitats.

"The Welsh Government is committed to decreasing Wales’ carbon emissions by 95% by 2050, with an ambition to reach net zero. Nature-based solutions can help us achieve that goal," she said.

"Welsh seas are more than a third larger than our land mass – and at least 113 million tonnes of carbon are already stored in our marine habitats, almost 10 years’ worth of Welsh carbon emissions.

"A Blue Carbon Bill would ensure the protection and recovery of key marine habitats and help Wales become a net-zero carbon emission country by 2050.”

The Marine Conservation Society’s recent report, Blue carbon: ocean-based solutions to the climate crisis, outlines the ocean’s capacity to absorb and store carbon from the atmosphere – but only if properly protected and recovered.

Marine ecosystems like seagrass meadows, saltmarshes and mangroves are blue carbon habitats, meaning they capture and store carbon from the atmosphere just like plants and trees on land. Blue carbon is also stored in seafloor sediment, where plants are rooted, and in the animals who live in the water, including seabirds, fish and larger mammals, like whales.

Angie Contestabile, Marine Conservation Society’s Public Affairs Manager for Wales said: "Welsh waters are home to incredibly powerful blue carbon habitats, all of them vital in fighting the climate crisis. However, we must ensure that the ocean has the resilience to help us. That’s why we’re supporting Joyce’s bid for new legislation to address the gap in protection and additional management of these vital marine and coastal assets.”

Under the Environment (Wales) Act 2016, the Welsh Government must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in Wales by at least 80% by the year 2050 – it has since committed to net-zero emissions by 2050.