Brussels - Seas At Risk has commemorated its 25th anniversary with a special marine litter policy event followed by a celebratory party at the Museum of Natural Sciences in Brussels. 

Seas At Risk was founded in 1989 as an association of NGOs working in Europe to influence policies affecting the marine environment, and has been based in Brussels since the early 2000s. We marked this quarter century of protecting the marine environment by holding a seminar in the European Parliament entitled ‘Making the link: Marine litter and the circular economy'. The event was sponsored by MEP Simona Bonafe, chaired by SAR Executive Director Monica Verbeek, with a key note address from Karl Falkenberg, Director General of DG Environment. 

The aim of the event was to demonstrate that the best way to deal with marine litter is through prevention of waste. It was especially timely due to the release of the Circular Economy Communication in July, which includes an aspirational marine litter reduction target and other measures to implement a circular economy in Europe. The event also aimed to demonstrate the necessity of policy makers’ support for strong recycling targets and the circular economy measures proposed in the communication, in order to safeguard the marine environment from waste.

We heard about specific issues relating to marine litter, and various points of view on the legislative framework that needs to be implemented to improve the situation in Europe. The key point was that our activities on land are intrinsically linked to the oceans, and our society’s current level of consumption is causing irreversible damage. Policy makers now have the ideal opportunity to work towards a solution with the circular economy package. 

The event consisted of two high level panels, the first on the problem of marine litter, and the second on how we can achieve a circular economy to tackle marine litter. The full agenda can be found below, along with the presentations of our speakers.

Following on from the afternoon event in the European Parliament, the participants joined other friends of Seas At Risk across the road in the impressive Hall of Dinosaurs in the Museum of Natural Sciences. Guests included representatives of the network’s member organisations, MEPs, Commission officials and other NGOs, who were addressed by our chair, Sam Fanshawe. Seas At Risk co-founder Cato ten Hallers talked about the early days of the organization and senior policy advisor and Seas At Risk veteran John Maggs highlighted some of the successes Seas At Risk has enjoyed during its first 25 years. Executive Director Monica Verbeek talked of our desire to make sure that we are no longer needed as an organisation in another 25 years, and spoke to our hopes for a more sustainable and green (or blue) future for Europe’s seas.

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