On the occasion of the EU Oceans week from 7-13 November the Commission and HR/VP Federica Mogherini adopted a Joint Communication on 10 November setting out an agenda for better ocean governance in order to contribute to safe, secure, clean and sustainably managed oceans.
With this Communication, HR/VP Mogherini said, the EU confirms its commitment to the implementation of the United Nations' 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, for the benefit of EU citizens and the whole world.
Jyrki Katainen, EU Vice-President responsible for Jobs, Growth and Investment said "The oceans offer great potential for boosting growth, jobs and innovation, while at the same time they are at the centre of some of the most pressing global challenges (...)."
The oceans are vital to humanity: Our living standards, our economy and our health depends on them. The Oceans absorb 25% of the world's CO2 and produce 70% of the oxygen we breathe. A billion people depend on seafood as their main source of protein. Algae is used in products from cosmetics to medicine. 90% of the world's trade is seaborne. Energy from the oceans keeps our lights on and our homes warm.
Today, our Oceans face immediate threats such as marine littering, illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing (IUU), human pressures on maritime resources, ocean warming and acidification. They are also used for illegal activities such as piracy and human trafficking.
Three priority areas have been outlined in the Communication:
1) Improving the international ocean governance framework
The EU will cooperate with international partners to ensure implementation of international maritime law and will host in October 2017 the "Our Oceans" conference to build on these commitments in order to improve the health of this resource which is open to all States.
It will also take action against the maritime security threats, mentioned above, taking full advantage of the capacity of the new European Border and Coastguard Agency, the EU Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) and Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA).
2) Reducing human pressure on the oceans and creating the conditions for a sustainable blue economy
The Commission will launch a pilot project to monitor illegal fishing worldwide using satellite communications and support Interpol in fighting IUU.
Under the "Circular Economy Action Plan", the EU will propose by 2017 a strategy on plastics, which will contribute to reducing marine litter by at least 30% by 2020.
The Commission will work towards international guidelines on Maritime Spatial Planning by 2025 and help expand Marine Protected Areas worldwide with funding under Horizon 2020 and LIFE programmes.
3) Strengthening international ocean research and data.
More understanding and sound scientific knowledge is essential to sustainably manage ocean resources and reduce human pressure. The European Marine Observation and Data Network provides data from over 100 marine research bodies and is accessible to all. The Commission will propose how to develop this database into a worldwide marine data network.