The European Parliament officially approved today the new European Commission, which will make fighting climate change one of its top priorities. To mitigate climate change, Oceana calls upon the new Commission to ensure ocean restoration and protection are fully integrated into the European Green Deal. The new Commission is expected to start its five-year term on 1 December, just one day before the UN Climate Change conference starts in Madrid.
“The EU must deliver an ambitious European Green Deal that protects the ocean — our critical ally in fighting the climate crisis. Underwater life is out of sight, but cannot be out of mind”, stressed Pascale Moehrle, Executive Director of Oceana in Europe. “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.”
Oceana urges the European Commission to include these ocean-based climate solutions in the European Green Deal:
- Stop overfishing, the biggest single threat to marine ecosystems undermining the ocean’s resilience and ability to adapt to changing temperatures. Fish stocks are overfished by over 40% in the European Atlantic and by 80% in the Mediterrranean Sea, making it the most overfished sea in the world.
- The Biodiversity Strategy 2030 must eliminate destructive types of fishing and address protection of fish stock recovery areas, vulnerable marine ecosystems and sensitive species. Healthy and diverse seas with abundant fish populations help to sustain communities threatened by climate change.
- Prioritise protection of ‘blue carbon’ coastal habitats: kelp forests, salt marshes and seagrass meadows capture CO2 and mitigate climate change.
- Expand protection of our waters from the current 12% to 30% by 2030. Marine protected areas safeguard hotspots of marine life and contribute to fisheries recovery and ecosystem resilience to climate change. They must be well managed, funded and connected, in order to be effective — not ‘paper parks’ as many currently are.
Europe’s ambition is to become the world’s first climate-neutral continent by 2050. The European Green Deal will be the EU agenda that drives the ecological transition. This is in direct response to citizen demands for strong action against climate change, mass extinction and environmental destruction. Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans will lead the flagship project, supported by Virginijus Sinkevičius, Commissioner responsible for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries.
Oceana urges the Commission and EU Member States to meet their legal obligations and fully implement the current Common Fisheries Policy and Marine Strategy Framework Directive which aim to achieve sustainable fisheries, recover fish stocks and put an end to pollution, thus bringing back healthy seas by 2020.