Welcome to the latest edition of the Seas at Risk Newsletter.
Autumn has settled and the stormy season has kicked off, so too at the International Maritime Organisation, where important decisions to reduce the impact of shipping on the marine environment and human health are about to be taken. At stake are 200 000 lives of people living in emerging countries.
Bad news arrives from the fisheries front, such as the disappointing outcome of the Fisheries Council for Baltic cod or the tough challenges ahead in the South-Western Waters Advisory Council, where NGO seats have been taken over by some fisheries organisations. However, a more positive note is provided by Seas at Risk member Danish Society for a Living Sea on their efforts to find a possible win-win situation for conservation and fisheries in the Danish Kattegat Sea. Fisheries management measures are also very important for the effectiveness of marine protected areas. In a recent workshop Seas At Risk members and other NGOs were provided with a legal toolkit to support their efforts to get real protection instead of “paper parks”.
Seas At Risk also explored the concept of smart seas as the future governance for our oceans, and highlighted the rising concerns about the lack of scientific knowledge related to the deep sea mining, in a context where an international exploitation regulation is already in the make. Moreover, in this issue you can find progress on the breaking free from plastics movement, which is becoming global, information on how innovation represents the way forward to aquaculture and the efforts that Seas At Risk is making to have better European environmental legislation.
We hope you enjoy this edition,
The Seas At Risk team
Those who will suffer most benefit least from global trade. The on-time implementation (in 2020) of a global low-sulphur fuel law for ships would prevent 200,000 premature deaths globally, a health study by a group of leading researchers from the United States and Finland reveals. Oil and gas industry association IPIECA and a group of shipping companies represented by BIMCO, are pushing hard to delay the measure for five years, The Guardian reveals.
Seas at Risk, as part of a new coalition of NGOs, the Clean Arctic Alliance, has developed a position statement asking states to #saynotoHFO. On October 24th the International Maritime Organization Marine Environment Protection Committee will be meeting in London to discuss a range of issues to reduce the risk and impact of shipping on the marine environment.
Seas At Risk criticises the decision of the Agriculture and Fisheries Council to sanction continued overfishing of Baltic cod. Fishing limits set above scientific advice will put the already pressured cod stocks at risk of collapse with detrimental effects for the small scale fishing fleets and coastal communities.
Following the European Commission proposal for new rules on technical conservation measures for fisheries, Seas At Risk together with other environmental NGOs urge the European Parliament and the Council of the EU to agree on ambitious measures which should contribute to maintaining an adequate level of ecosystem protection across EU waters as well as managing fish stocks sustainably.
Environmental NGOs sent an open letter to Commissioner Vella to communicate their suspension of activities at the South-Western WatersAdvisory Council in response to the admission of fishing organisations as ‘other interest group’ members.
The final conference of the MIDAS project, the EU’s flagship research project on the impacts of deep sea mining, showed that the scientific basis needed to underpin policies is far from mature. Huge uncertainties and unknowns about the deep sea ecosystems remain. In the meantime, the industry is gearing up its technology – the prospect being that exploration could start within four years’ time. The International Seabed Authority is rushing to get regulation in place.
Seas At Risk participated in the First Summit of the Blue Economy Business and Science Forum in Hamburg, 12th-13th September. The conference gave a good taste of the opportunities and challenges blue innovation poses to the future of our seas. While EU research seems more and more geared towards a ‘smart’ blue economy, the governance framework – and financial instruments - clearly still need to catch up.
Seas At Risk, together with the Marine Conservation Society and ClientEarth, is empowering its members with a series of legal tips to encourage Member States to ensure effective management measures are put in place in marine protected areas. In marine protected areas, human activities are supposed to be restricted for conservation purposes. However, in reality marine protected areas often are mere ‘paper parks’, lacking concrete management measures.
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.
After two years of preparatory work and negotiations, the Commission presented its proposal for a revised Decision on criteria and methodologies for determining good environmental status of European seas. While the legislation is now clearer and promotes stronger regional cooperation, some important safeguards are still missing to ensure an adequate level of protection of our seas and ocean.
Seas At Risk participated in the European Aquaculture Society’s annual Aquaculture Europe 2016 conference which took place from the 20th-23rd of September in Edinburgh, Scotland. Some promising research results (on among others aquaponics) point to the important role innovation can play in making the sector sustainable.
Over the summer, 100 NGOs from across the world came together to strategise how to tackle the ever growing plastic pollution problem. Today the vision they created is launched, and we ask the European union to rise to the challenge to break free from plastic.
Cutter “Anton”, research vessel from Danish Association for a Living Sea, documented the economic feasibility of replacing lobster trawling in the Kattegat sea with fishing lobster by lobster pots. This would create a win-win situation for both fisheries and environment. Trawling for Norwegian lobster in the deeper soft bottomed parts of the Kattegat Sea is bad news for many animals on the sea floor and their habitat.
Seas At Risk member organisation the Fundació ENT, is organizing together with eco-union and EUCC Mediterranean Centre the first Blue Eco Forum. The event gathers together key stakeholders - NGOs, researchers, private and public representatives - from the Euro-Mediterranean.