Strasbourg – Today, the European Parliament’s plenary has adopted the agreement reached with EU countries on the Nature Restoration Law (NRL). This is good news for the marine environment, say NGOs Oceana and Seas At Risk, because the new law includes binding restoration targets for marine habitats, as well as a new mechanism and a timeline to restrict destructive fishing and allow the restoration of key marine habitats like seagrass meadows and reefs. This adoption marks the penultimate stage in the process before the law is due to enter into force.

Specifically, the law will oblige EU countries to restore at least 30% of their degraded marine habitats by 2030 (1) by adopting national restoration plans. It also includes new provisions ensuring EU countries cooperate and adopt the necessary joint fisheries measures for marine restoration by mid-2028 at the latest, in cases where the destructive fishing practices of one country impact the restoration efforts of another.

Nicolas Fournier, Campaign Director for Marine Protection at Oceana in Europe, said: With the adoption today of the Nature Restoration Law, we are one step closer to making EU seas more biodiverse and resilient to climate change. Following months of campaigning in support of nature restoration by Oceana and our allies, and faced with fierce political opposition to green policies, the law will make legacy as one of the few flagship regulations of the EU Green Deal.”

Tatiana Nuño, Senior Marine Policy Officer at Seas At Risk, said: “The EU’s first ever legally binding biodiversity restoration law is an essential step forward for the health of the ocean. It is also proof that we can create laws that make nature, food security and sustainable jobs go hand-in-hand. With the passing of this law, EU countries can begin working on their national plans to bring life back to Europe’s seas.”

The NRL received overwhelming support from over 6,000 scientists, 100+ businesses, over 200 NGOs, numerous climate activists, and was championed by some key cross-party MEPs from the socialist, green and liberal groups. Further, partners of the #RestoreNature campaign, including Oceana and Seas At Risk, gathered over one million signatures and messages from citizens demanding a strong NRL.

The NRL will create the first ever binding EU law to restore almost all degraded ecosystems by 2050. It will result in multiple benefits at sea, such as helping increase resilience of habitats to climate change and supporting fishers by restoring fish abundance – through protecting fish nurseries, as well as helping meet EU climate and biodiversity targets. The three EU institutions reached a provisional political agreement on it in November last year.

Following its adoption by the European Parliament, the Council of the EU is due to approve the law in the coming weeks, and it is finally expected to enter into force before the summer. After that, EU countries will have two years to draw up national restoration plans and submit them to the European Commission for assessment. Oceana and Seas At Risk urge the next EU institutions, and in particular the European Commission, to act decisively on nature restoration, as the security of EU citizens is at stake in the face of the climate and biodiversity crises.


(1) The 30% by 2030 refers to habitat types listed in Annex II (Art 5. 1(a))