European Commissioner for the Environment and Maritime Affairs, Karmenu Vella, has welcomed the occasion of World Oceans Day by detailing the successes of the commission’s ocean conservation efforts.
The theme of this year’s World Oceans Day is ‘Preventing plastic pollution and encouraging solutions for a healthy ocean’, which acknowledges the increasing problem of plastic waste entering the ocean. Currently, some 12.7m tonnes of plastic from a variety of sources makes its way into oceans around the world every year.
The EU has led the way in introducing legislation which restricts the use of non-biodegradable plastics, sets clear recycling targets, and encourages innovation at the design stage to transform the role plastics play in our everyday lives.
Commissioner Vella took the opportunity of World Oceans Day to highlight some of the commission’s successes, discuss its ongoing efforts, and highlight opportunities for citizens to participate.
What did Vella say?
Vella began by emphasising the value that oceans provide, in terms of their importance as an abundant supplier of food, energy and natural resources, and as a regulator for climate and many other natural cycles. The sea, he added, is a source of “inspiration, imagination and humility”.
However, he also warned that increased efforts are needed to combat threats to the oceans posed by pollution and other problems: “On this day, I want to recall the urgent need to address the immense challenges that our oceans are faced with: climate change, pollution, environmental degradation and unsustainable management of their resources.”
What efforts are the EU making to preserve the oceans?
Vella drew attention to the EU’s Our Ocean Conference, which took place in Malta last year, and which will take place again this year in Bali, on 29-31 October. Last year’s event resulted in 433 commitments from around the world, and some €7bn in financial pledges.
The commissioner concluded: “On World Oceans Day, I want to send a positive message. With our common fisheries policies, we are showing that sustainability and economic performance go hand in hand… The European Union is playing its part, we are taking care of our future; standing up for our oceans.”