With a new European Commission taking office in the coming weeks, the time has come to step up our ambition to save our blue planet. Based on its 30 years’ experience, Seas At Risk provides guidelines on the urgent steps needed to close the ongoing action gaps and move towards making our oceans healthy and more resilient to climate change.

Following news that the EU Agriculture and Fisheries Council (AGRIFISH) has today set five out of ten fishing limits for fish caught in the Baltic Sea, far above the EU fisheries legal requirements for sustainable fishing levels in 2020, conservation NGOs have expressed their outrage, accusing EU governments of acting with no regard to the law, and ignoring the ongoing overfishing and devastation of the Baltic Sea’s ecosystem. 

The Special Report on the Ocean and the Cryosphere, released today by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), makes for grim reading. The ocean is the life-support system for our planet. It pumps nutrients around the globe, helps to regulate weather patterns and produces half of the oxygen we breathe. By absorbing 90% of the excess heat in the atmosphere and 30% of the CO2, it has so far protected us from the worst effects of the climate crisis. 

As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate (SROCC) launches today in Monaco, 52 non-governmental organisations have written to European leaders calling on them to show leadership by acting to protect the ocean, as well as urgently cutting CO2 emissions, in the face of climate breakdown.

Environmental NGOs Seas At Risk, Our Fish and Oceana are deeply disappointed that todays Commission proposal for fishing limits in the Baltic allows for the continuation of  overfishing in 2020, even though there is a legal deadline to end overfishing by 2020 under the EU Common Fisheries Policy. The Commission’s proposal includes fishing limits that exceed scientific advice for the iconic western Baltic herring and  main basin Baltic salmon. It also  leaves a gaping loophole for over-exploitation of the threatened eastern Baltic cod. 

This year is the final chance for the Commission and EU Fisheries Ministers to honour their legal commitment to end overfishing in EU waters by 2020. It is clear, however, that insufficient progress has been made to date, despite the looming deadline. Now more than ever, the Commission and Fisheries Ministers must follow scientific advice if they are to achieve sustainable fisheries and restore our ocean to health.

Deep sea mining proponents such as the International Seabed Authority (ISA) claim that economic prosperity can only be secured if the global supply of metals doubles by the middle of this century. Yet UNEP’s International Resource Panel (IRP) brings a different perspective on the future needs for metals and calls for a new global governance mechanism to oversee the sustainable use and supply of mineral resources. Seas At Risk calls on ISA member countries to rethink their support for deep sea mining in light of the UNEP-IRP’s findings and recommendations.

Thousands of dolphins, porpoises and whales die in European waters, due to  accidental capture in fisheries nets (bycatch). Today 22 environmental NGOs [1], led by Seas At Risk, Whale and Dolphin Conservation, ClientEarth and Coalition Clean Baltic, jointly called on the European Commission to adopt emergency measures to immediately prevent further deaths and take legal action against 15 EU governments for failing their duty to protect these mammals.

Today, NGOs demanded that EU fisheries ministers face up to the consequences of their poor record on protecting the fish populations that underpin the health of European Seas. In a freshly published catch advice from The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), scientists advise that the iconic North Sea cod population is at such depleted levels, that fishing limits should be capped at 10 457 tonnes in 2020 - a 70% cut compared to last year. [1] 

Environmentalists have lodged an official complaint with the European Commission over illegal management of protected North Sea nature reserves, which have been left decimated by damaging fishing practices. Lawyers for WWF and ClientEarth, supported by other organisations, among which Seas At Risk, are calling on the Commission to challenge the Netherlands, the UK and Germany over a recently submitted proposed management plan for the Dogger Bank – a unique undersea conservation site, and home to sharks, porpoises and other iconic species – that contains multiple breaches of EU law.

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