The Council of the EU has adopted a set of conclusions calling for increased action to protect the world’s oceans and seas from the effects of climate change.
The Council’s conclusions highlighted the deleterious effects on coastal and marine ecosystems of the ongoing climate emergency; and expressed ‘great concern’ over the fact that regional seas surrounding Europe are heating up at a faster rate than the global average. The Council has therefore requested that the European Commission develop policy proposals to avert the ‘direct and existential threat’ posed to oceans and seas by climate change.
The Council’s recommendations include:
- Shoring up the sustainability of the blue economy and promoting the responsible use of marine resources;
- Extending specific protections to the Arctic and outermost regions, in recognition of their increased vulnerability to the impact of climate change;
- Reducing levels of marine litter, particularly plastic waste;
- Promoting biodiversity in oceans and seas; and
- Boosting sustainable ocean research and development.
Rebecca Hubbard, Programme Director of sustainable fishing initiative Our Fish, said: “While the EU Council’s Conclusion on Oceans and Seas appears to reflect the urgency and commitment needed to address the threat of climate breakdown to the ocean and marine life, Our Fish believes that this provides an opportunity for EU Prime Ministers to execute a clear and deliverable climate emergency action as soon as next month; when EU fisheries ministers set annual fishing limits for next year, they must deliver on international and EU obligations to end overfishing by 2020.
“The Council’s request to the Commission for policy options that respond to IPCC Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere are also clear: the European Commission must ensure that all proposals for fishing opportunities throughout EU seas follow scientific advice, in order to rebuild fish populations and revitalise ocean health. Ending overfishing is a simple, deliverable action that the Commission and EU can define in the new Green Deal that delivers for the climate and for EU citizens. The Commission needs to make the Green Deal blue.”