Today, the European Commission published a report assessing the progress with the implementation of the EU’s Marine Directive [1], adopted in 2008. The report comes out just as the European Environment Agency paints a dire picture of the state of European seas in its new Marine report. Marine life, from seabed to sea birds, is suffering: 79% of the EU’s coastal seabed is damaged by bottom-trawling, up to 53% of sharks, rays and skates are threatened by bycatch and marine mammals’ condition has been in sharp decline since 2009.

Scientists indicate that deep sea fish populations in the EU are either depleted or lacking information to assess their status. NGOs urge European decision-makers to set fishing limits for highly vulnerable deep sea fish populations in line with scientific advice and the precautionary approach.

2020 was to be the ‘Ocean Super Year’, with a series of planned ocean policy events to determine the future of our blue planet. Like so many other things, COVID-19 has brought a different focus. Today, World Oceans Day 2020, is instead a time to reflect on the lessons learned from the pandemic. First, we are all connected with each other and with the natural world. Scientists have suggested that humans are to blame for this crisis, confirming that the closer contact between wild animals and humans as a result of the widespread destruction of nature facilitated the spread of the virus to humans.

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