After years of advocating for strong legislation to effectively reduce marine litter, Seas At Risk today welcomes the adoption of two ambitious pieces of European legislation which will pave the way for a bluer and more sustainable future.

Following a real marathon to deliver before the next EU elections, EU institutions have agreed on the first ever ambitious measures to address both land and sea-based plastic pollution. Seas At Risk considers the recently adopted measures as a first step in the right direction. 

After a long night of negotiations, the EU’s Fisheries Council agreed fishing limits for the North Sea and North-East Atlantic that will see overfishing continue in 2019. This was the penultimate chance for Ministers to meet their legal obligations under the Common Fisheries Policy to end overfishing for all stocks by 2020 at the latest. 

The clock is ticking. The 2020 deadline to deliver healthy oceans is fast approaching. Seas At Risk, together with several NGOs and thousands of  European citizens, is determined to ensure that European Ministers do not ignore the deadline to which they have already made a legal commitment. With a joint NGO call on governments to take 20 measures to progress to healthy seas by 2020, Seas At Risk has launched the “Save #OurBlueLung” campaign to galvanise a strong push towards a bluer future.  

Producer responsibility requirements must be stronger, campaigners warn. "The fight against plastic pollution is one that we can win. The EU plastics laws initiated by the Commission and endorsed by the Parliament are a first step towards a future where plastic doesn't poison us. If we commit to this together, nobody loses, everybody wins", said European Commission vice president Frans Timmermansat a press conference today. "The industry is clearly now focusing its energy on the EU Council. It's up to the Austrian presidency to resist, and maintain the level of ambition initiated by the Commission, and reinforced by Parliament. This is the perfect slot in our history to impulse the virtuous change demanded by citizens. Disappointing them would be tragic", added Frédérique Ries, who represents the European Parliament in the negotiations on the single-use plastics law.

Seas At Risk is deeply disappointed by the decision on fishing limits for deep sea fish stocks for 2019-2020 taken by the Fisheries’ Council of Ministers tonight. This was the final opportunity for fisheries ministers to end overfishing of deep sea species by 2015 or at the latest by 2020, as legally required under the Common Fisheries Policy. In their decision, however, the ministers have reneged on that obligation.

On paper, more than 10% of European seas are protected from the impact of human activities. The reality is quite different, however, according to managers of marine protected areas, who speak regularly with Seas At Risk members.

Recent scientific findings point to another looming threat to our seas. Marine litter from aquaculture contributes to the spread of invasive alien species, putting pressure on native biodiversity and habitats, as well as farmed species. Seas At Risk has proposed a set of measures to tackle the problem.

Environmental organisations call for real measures in areas protected on paper. ClientEarth, Coalition Clean Baltic, Oceana, Seas at Risk and WWF warn that marine life across Europe is being harmed because member states are neglecting to actively manage marine protected areas. This puts at risk much of the biodiversity within the marine Natura 2000 network of protected sites, which protects on paper around 10% of waters across the European Union.

On 23 October, the European Parliament voted in favour of the Single Use Plastic Directive, with an overwhelming majority of MEPs supporting the European Commission’s plan to reduce pollution from single-use plastics. 

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