EU-Canada maritime partnership a major step forward

eu-canada maritime partnership
© iStock/Gregory_DUBUS

The EU-Canada maritime partnership is committed to combating the negative effects of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fisheries, marine pollution and climate change.

The European Commission and Canada have agreed to continue to collaborate closely across the maritime and fisheries sectors. Representatives of the EU and Canada met in Montreal in July for the annual EU-Canada Summit. The EU-Canada maritime partnership agreement includes clear commitments to combatting the negative effects of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fisheries, marine pollution and climate change. It will also help to facilitate the sustainable development of marine and maritime sectors and the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, particularly Sustainable Development Goal 14: ‘Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development’.

Karmenu Vella, European Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, said: “The vast challenges our oceans face have been one of the priorities of my mandate – from climate change to plastic pollution to illegal fishing. No country, or region, can tackle these problems alone. I am delighted that, together, EU and Canada are leading the way to healthier oceans.’’

Co-operation on global ocean governance

The EU-Canada maritime partnership is a major step forward and sets out general lines for future collaboration in areas such as:

  • The conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in the high seas;
  • The fight against marine pollution, including marine plastic litter and microplastics;
  • The implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate change as relevant to the oceans;
  • The prevention of unregulated commercial fishing in the central Arctic;
  • The strengthening of ocean governance in regional and global forums;
  • The promotion of safe and decent living and working conditions at sea; and
  • The fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

Ocean partnerships: a new tool

International ocean governance is an important priority issue for the EU, which it aims to realise through international and bilateral co-operation. The EU and Canada have a longstanding co-operation agreement on fisheries and ocean affairs. They also share the goal of ensuring conservation and the sustainable use of oceans and marine resources in accordance with a multilateral and rules-based approach. The signing of the EU-Canada maritime partnership, one year after the first such agreement was signed with China, confirms the EU’s preference for strong partnerships and international co-operation.

Unregulated fishing

Earlier this year in March, the European Commission adopted a decision on the conclusion of an agreement against unregulated fishing, which was signed on 3 October 2018 by the five Arctic Ocean coastal states – Canada, Denmark (acting on behalf of Greenland and the Faroe Islands), Norway, Russia, and the United States – together with China, the EU, Iceland, Japan and South Korea.

Petre Daea, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development of Romania and President of the Council said: “I am proud to announce that the EU will soon be a part of this historic agreement that for the first time protects the Arctic Ocean and its fragile ecosystem. It is a vital step towards achieving greater sustainability and strengthening ocean governance.”

The objective of the agreement is to prevent unregulated fishing in the high seas portion of the central Arctic Ocean through the application of precautionary conservation and management measures, as part of a long-term strategy to safeguard healthy marine ecosystems, and to ensure the conservation and sustainable use of fish stocks.

Under the agreement, the 10 parties concerned have agreed to ban commercial fishing in the high seas portion of the central Arctic Ocean for an initial period of 16 years (to be extended automatically every five years), until scientists confirm that it can be done sustainably and until the parties agree on mechanisms to ensure the sustainability of fish stocks. This is the first time that the Arctic high seas are covered by any international conservation and management regime.

Until recently ice has covered the high seas portion of the central Arctic Ocean on a year-round basis, thereby making fishing in those waters impossible. However, global heating has significantly reduced ice coverage in that area in recent years. Although commercial fishing is unlikely to become viable in the high seas portion of the central Arctic Ocean in the near future, the central Arctic Ocean ecosystems will be more and more exposed to human activities and possibly to illegal fishing. The European Parliament gave its consent on the decision on 12 February 2019.

EU-Canada maritime partnership to face global challenges

The EU and Canada have reaffirmed their determination to jointly address global challenges in a manner that strengthens the rules-based international order, benefits citizens; and protects the planet by delivering on climate change and ocean commitments. Leaders expressed their resolve for rapid and concerted action to address the challenges facing the multilateral trading system.

The European Commissioner for Trade, Cecilia Malmström said: “The EU and Canada believe that global issues require multilateral solutions. Together we are sending a clear message that international co-operation is beneficial to all. Nowhere is this more apparent than in our trade relationship. Almost two years after it entered into force, CETA is providing concrete proof of the mutual benefits of open trade. Exports on both sides are up, and our businesses and citizens are already seeing the benefits.”

Three years after the signature of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and the Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA) the EU and Canada emphasised the progress they have made since. Thanks to the EU-Canada trade agreement, which is under provisional application since September 2017, trade relations between the two countries keep growing stronger. EU exports to Canada increased overall by 15% in 2018 compared to the previous three-year average, strengthening even more the EU’s positive trade balance.

The most significant export growth has been registered in particular for industrial products such as combustion engines (over 100%), tramway locomotives and parts (+87%) furniture (+21%) and perfumes and cosmetics (+14%). The same trends were registered for several agricultural products, including citrus fruit (+78%), cheese (+33%), pasta (+16%), wine (+10%) and chocolate (+9%).

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