EU urges urgent action on oceans

The EU’s commissioner for the environment has said the world’s oceans have the potential to be a major source of economic growth, is they are fully and sustainable protected.

Speaking at a conference in Ital to mark European Maritime Day (EMD), Virginijus Sinkevicius warned that failure to protect the world’s oceans was simply no longer an option.

He said the EU was determined to play its part and safeguard the future of the world’s maritime environment and with it trade.

“The ocean and the sustainable blue economy are part and parcel of our DNA,” he said. “It is who we are. If we fail to protect our Ocean, we will fail in protecting our identity. If we are indifferent, we become guilty of inaction.”

Sinkevicius added: “The importance of standing together and taking action was brought home in recent months with Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine.

“The EU and its allies stood together and acted swiftly and decisively with sweeping sanctions against Russia. Let’s be clear: those sanctions are not aimed at the Russian people; they are aimed at Mr Putin’s regime. And we are prepared to do more if it’s needed.”

Turning back to the maritime sector and the environment he said there could be no delay in taking action to combat the effects of climate change and manmade impacts.

“One of our top priorities is to protect the oceans,” explained Sinkevicius. “This is enshrined in our Common Fisheries Policy and the Biodiversity Strategy. We are committed to ending overfishing. To protecting marine and coastal ecosystems. And to maintaining the carbon sink of the ocean to fight climate change.

“This also happens to be the key to achieving sustainable production from the ocean. We strive to manage healthy fisheries. And to develop strong, innovative blue economy sectors through our Sustainable Blue Economy Strategy. For sectors like marine renewable energy, aquaculture, tourism, transport and more.

“And let’s not forget that that the sustainable management of our ocean also brings with it benefits and prosperity for the people.”

“The post-pandemic recovery has not been easy but we are determined. We are determined to make the sustainable blue economy part of our green recovery. Because you can’t have green without the blue,” he added. “Last May we introduced our new approach to a sustainable blue economy. It announced a number of thematic initiatives. Such as renewable ocean energy, sustainable seafood and fisheries, marine biodiversity, marine pollution, ocean observation and marine knowledge, to name a few.

“Russia’s war against Ukraine has only strengthened our determination to speed up this necessary energy transition and make our energy supplies strategically independent. With offshore energy and the blue economy playing an important role.

“Renewables give us the freedom to choose an energy source that is clean, cheap, reliable, and ours. There were some concerns that what is happening in Ukraine could divert us from our mission. Quite the contrary, our mission is even more urgent!”

Sinkevicius   said the European Green Deal was “our long-term strategy, based on necessity”.

“And based on hard facts and scientific insights into what he European society and economy need to survive and flourish in the decades to come.

“The European Green Deal promotes ocean conservation. It will help to reduce the cumulative effects of human activities on the sea. And it will generate wealth and jobs through solutions that use marine resources sustainably.”

He said there was a now a need to move towards a coherent vision where sound maritime spatial planning “allows us to assess, mitigate and reduce the cumulative effects of the blue economy on marine ecosystems, while fostering synergies between sectors”.

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