Ocean conservation non-profit Oceana has called on the new European Commission to ensure marine preservation is fully integrated in its proposed European Green Deal.
Ursula von der Letyen, the new President of the European Commission, has indicated that she intends to implement a European Green Deal within 100 days of formally taking office. The deal, which will support von der Leyen’s goal of making Europe the world’s first climate neutral continent by 2050, is expected to include stricter targets on emissions reduction and increased provision for agriculture and environmental preservation. Oceana has produced a list of policies shoring up ocean conservation which it has urged the Commission to include in the Green Deal:
- Preventing overfishing, which is the most pressing current threat to ocean ecosystems – fish stocks in the Mediterranean are overfished by 80%, while earlier this year the Commission was forced to issue a temporary emergency ban on fishing Eastern Baltic cod in light of stock losses due to overfishing;
- Increasing efforts in marine stock recovery and protection of marine ecosystems;
- Implementing protection measures to conserve vulnerable coastal habitats, which can act as carbon sinks; and
- Extend the proportion of EU oceans which are designated Marine Protected Areas from 12% to 30% by 2030.
Pascale Moehrle, Executive Director of Oceana in Europe, said: “The EU must deliver an ambitious European Green Deal that protects the ocean, [which is] our critical ally in fighting the climate crisis. Underwater life is out of sight, but cannot be out of mind. If the EU wants to truly steer global change, it has to be credible and lead by example. Current environmental laws are not being fully implemented and deadlines and targets are being missed.”
The von der Leyen Commission is expected to begin its term next week, on 1 December. Representatives of the Commission and the European Parliament will attend the United Nations’ COP25 Conference on Climate Change between 2 and 13 December.