Seas at Risk urges Member States to designate more marine protected areas under the Natura 2000 network and calls on the European Commission to take legal steps against those Member States that fail to do so.
On 27-29 September, the Commission, with the support of the European Topic Centre for Biodiversity, assessed whether the current Natura 2000 marine sites are sufficient to ensure the protection of targeted species and habitats in the North East Atlantic, Macaronesia and Mediterranean marine regions. To ensure an evaluation based on solid scientific data, a coalition of European NGOs, including Seas At Risk and several of its members, joined efforts to compile information on the current coverage and gaps of the network. This joint NGO contribution led to an adjustment of the Commission final assessment. Worryingly, the evaluation showed that the majority of marine habitats and species reviewed were considered to be insufficiently protected by the existing N2000 network and that more efforts are necessary.
Seas At Risk calls on Member States to urgently increase the designation of marine protected areas, in particular off shore and to show their determination in achieving real protection of endangered species and their habitats.
In parallel, Seas At Risk welcomes the legislative steps that the European Commission is already taking. The UK government has for instance been recently referred to the European Court of Justice due to its failure to protect harbour porpoises, which are small whales whose population is declining. Such legal action is essential to speed up the completion of the N2000 network.