Measures proposed by EU Member States to protect the marine environment lack ambition and financial commitment. This is the key finding of an NGO survey organised by Seas At Risk and Oceana in order to assess the level of ambition, strengths and weaknesses of themeasures Member States are proposing to implement the Marine Directive and ultimately achieve a good environmental status of European marine waters before 2020.

Joint opening statement of Seas At Risk, the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition, Oceana and WWF for the 35th North-East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC) Annual Meeting 

By recognising the threats posed by spills and black carbon emissions from heavy fuel oil (HFO) the recent 70th session of the International Maritime Organisation’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC70) took a first significant step towards the phase out of this dirty fuel from ships sailing in Arctic waters. 

Environmental groups strongly criticised the most recent International Maritime Organisation (IMO) response to the Paris Agreement objective of keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees, and in particular the lack of an agreement to establish a greenhouse gas emissions reduction target for the shipping sector. The outcome fails to allay fears that the IMO might be unable to tackle this issue in an effective and timely manner and reinforces the argument that the EU should push ahead with its own regional measure.

Seas At Risk urges the International Seabed Authority to stop granting licenses for deep sea exploration and exploitation until all alternatives have been investigated and stringent environmental framework conditions are put in place.

Seas At Risk and the Fisheries Secretariat sent their recommendations for the upcoming bi-annual Council decision for deep-sea species. The organisations ask fisheries ministers to adopt precautious fishing opportunities in line with scientific advice and the objectives of the Common Fisheries Policy to complement the recently agreed deep-sea access regime in the protection of the deep sea.

Clean Shipping Coalition statement to the 70th session of the IMO’s Marine Environment protection Committee in London on 28th October 2016:

“Mr Chairman, when the Clean Shipping Coalition spoke on this issue earlier in the week we expressed our concern that some of the submissions made to this meeting under agenda item 7 [greenhouse gas emissions from ship] lacked ambition and an appropriate sense of urgency. In the outcome of the working group our worst fears have been realised. This can in no-way be seen as a proper response to the challenge laid down by Paris.

We note that a discussion of “levels of ambition” will be part of the lengthy process, but what is urgently needed is a clear indication of the scale of the emissions reductions that are necessary to keep warming below dangerous levels. This is needed to guide further work on measures and to send a crystal clear signal to industry that we are serious about decarbonisation of the sector and that they have to start including this reality in the decisions they are making now.

Why, when a majority of submissions, including from industry, supported setting some kind of target or objective is this missing from the outcome of the working group? It is totally unacceptable that an IMO response to Paris should lack this key element and indeed should then go on to suggest that it is acceptable to wait until 2023 before finally agreeing measures. Keeping warming to 1.5 degrees means net zero carbon emissions around 2030, and you are proposing to wait until 2023 to agree a measure based on no target or objective.

Mr Chairman, it is a source of deep regret that a process that had so much promise on Monday should have stumbled so seriously before the week was out. If this Committee is to send a clear signal to the wider world that it is serious about reducing shipping’s climate impact it needs to revisit this roadmap, and in particular it needs to agree a target by 2018”. 

London, 28 October 2016 - Statement on behalf of environmental NGOs Transport & Environment and Seas At Risk- Abandoning a review of ship efficiency targets until 2018 at the earliest, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) today turned down an easy opportunity to act on climate change, environmental groups Transport & Environment (T&E) and Seas at Risk (SAR), members of the Clean Shipping Coalition, have said.

Today’s decision by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) to cap the sulphur content of marine fuels sold worldwide at 0.5% by 2020 has been applauded by environmental groups Transport & Environment and Seas At Risk, which are members of the Clean Shipping Coalition. This will reduce SO2 emissions – which cause premature deaths from diseases such as lung cancer and heart disease – from shipping by 85% compared with today’s levels.

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. The legislation not only lacks an independent process to decide when Good Environmental Status is achieved but also has some inconsistencies with other European environmental policies. Seas At Risk, together with other NGOs, urged the Commission to address these issues.