The EU pushing for better Ocean Governance
Our oceans are under threat. Since 1970, 50% of the oceans' biodiversity has been destroyed. At the same time, marine litter is on the rise: by 2025, we risk 'harvesting' 1 tonne of plastic per 3 tonnes of fish.
Why should we in Europe care? Because 90% of the EU's international and 40% of its internal trade is maritime, accounting for 4 million jobs and at €52.2 billion, the EU is the world's largest seafood market by value. And there is clearly potential for further blue growth from the sea. In short, we need the European maritime economy for jobs and growth – and we need healthy oceans as a precondition for both.
In Europe, the EU and Member States are taking action to ensure our seas and oceans are preserved for future generations. The EU has already adopted the Integrated Maritime Policy and established robust rules to ensure sustainable use of marine resources. It is engaged in regional strategies and in international and cross-sectorial fora to address common challenges and has established mechanisms for better cooperation and information sharing, whilst also making maritime data publicly accessible.
But the 60% of the world's ocean that fall outside national jurisdiction are underpoliced.
Insufficient or inefficient ocean governance – the lack of rules or their implementation – puts marine resources and environments at risk. Because of the large number of institutions and agreements involved in ocean governance, challenges such as illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing remain difficult to monitor and control. As the global population continues to grow and human activities have an increasing impact on the world’s oceans, there is both a pressing need and an opportunity to consolidate existing structures to oversee how our oceans are managed sustainably.
To this end, the European Commission is spearheading moves to develop international governance that can face up to the challenges ahead. Over the past few months, the Commission has listened to and consulted various partners, in Europe and around the globe, on how to improve the status quo. Based on the results of these consultations, it will launch a major political initiative on international ocean governance next year.
Sustainable exploitation of marine global resources requires research, detailed ocean mapping and comprehensive environmental accountancy. It requires cooperation and dialogue between governments, economic operators and stakeholders to better apply the existing agreements, and achieve the objectives we have set ourselves. However, international ocean governance also requires better education and training, especially in developing nations.