The European Environmental Agency (EEA) presented its fourth European environment-state and outlook 2010 report (SOER 2010) in the European Parliament today, pointing out a number of serious marine environmental concerns and highlighting the need for a significant reform of the CFP.

The European Environmental Agency (EEA) presented its fourth European environment-state and outlook 2010 report (SOER 2010) in the European Parliament today, pointing out a number of serious marine environmental concerns and highlighting the need for a significant reform of the CFP.

On overfishing, the EEA note that since 1985 the general fish catch has significantly declined and that 30% of Europe’s fish stocks are now over exploited. For separate regional seas, the percentages of fish stocks outside safe biological limits varies between 25% in the Arctic East to 62% in the Bay of Biscay. Current numbers of large predatory fish species are also decreasing and the EEA states that if measures are not taken, even the lowest trophic levels will be at risk as a result of fishing down the food web.

The report stresses the importance of a complete reform of the Common Fisheries Policy, accounting for overfishing, fleet overcapacity, subsidies, low economic resilience and a decline in fish biomass. The opportunity here, the EEA states, could foster the utilisation of truly ecosystem-based management approach.

In regards to pollution, the report states how the marine environment has been significantly affected by the introduction of nitrates originating from agriculture and also from ships due to NOx emissions. Both sources are responsible for 30% of the nitrogen load to the sea surface. The effect has been an acceleration in the growth of phytoplankton, resulting in oxygen depletion killing bottom dwelling organisms and the composition and abundance of marine organisms also being affected.

In addition, the report points out how oxygen depletion can even be stimulated by increasing sea temperature as a result of climate change.

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