As the International Maritime Organization’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 73) closed  on 26 October in London, the Clean Arctic Alliance and indigenous groups welcomed the support given by member states to commence work on developing a ban on the use and carriage of heavy fuel oil in Arctic waters.

Two weeks of talks in London on what measures the global shipping sector should take to reduce its climate impact have failed to make progress. Governments meeting at the UN’s International Maritime Organisation (IMO) were supposed to start delivering on their April commitment to decarbonise international shipping but instead became bogged down in procedural matters. The Clean Shipping Coalition said the total lack of urgency was in stark contrast to the impassioned pleas for action made to delegates by the authors of the recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

On 25 October 2018, the European Parliament approved the multiannual plan for fish stocks in the Western Waters (north-east Atlantic), even though this plan facilitates overfishing. In failing to ensure the long-term environmental sustainability of fish stocks, the plan goes against the fundamental objective of the Common Fisheries Policy to end overfishing.

At the 15 October meeting of the Fisheries Council, on fishing limits for the Baltic Sea, the Fisheries Ministers again agreed to continue overfishing. They allow a catch of 24,112 tonnes of cod from the eastern Baltic cod stock, 44% higher than scientists advise and an incredible 33% higher than fishing industry demands.

Mid-October marked an important milestone in the EU’s efforts to tackle marine litter in its waters, with European Parliament committees voting on two crucial legislative tools in the Commission’s fight against marine litter. Both votes showed strong support for the proposed Directives, which must now be secured in the subsequent legislative process.

On 18 September, 40 NGOs across Europe (including Seas At Risk and some of its members) sent a letter to Commissioners Karmenu Vella and Cecilia Malmström, calling on the European Commission to refrain from providing financial aid for the construction of new fishing vessels in nine European outermost regions belonging to France, Portugal and Spain.

Last week, G7 Environment Ministers met in Halifax, Canada to discuss climate change, oceans and clean energy. The Oceans Partnership Summit brought together some 200 representatives from industry, civil society and research, including Seas At Risk. These delegates were invited to come up with recommendations for the Ministers on sustainable oceans and fisheries, marine litter and resilient coasts and coastal communities.

On 13 September the European Parliament voted in favour of the European Strategy for Plastics in a Circular Economy, proposed by the European Commission in January 2018. Seas At Risk welcomes the Parliament’s endorsement of the Strategy. This vote shows that the European institutions acknowledge the need for Europe to change the ways it produces and uses plastic, and are in favour of moving towards the circular economy model.

On 29 August, the European Parliament’s Environment Committee (ENVI) gave its views on the Commission’s proposal on a Single-use Plastics Directive. The majority of MEPs in ENVI are seeking more ambitious measures to reduce plastic pollution than those proposed by the European Commission.

The European Environment Agency is encouraging citizens to get involved in its Marine Litter Watch Month from 17 September to 16 October 2018. The project aims to combat plastic litter, using citizen science (scientific research partly conducted by members of the public) and mobile phone technology to help individuals and communities to build a compelling case to clean up Europe’s beaches.

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