A group of ocean experts, including the UN Special Envoy for the Ocean, scientists and NGOs convening for a COP25 event today in Madrid, How can Ending Overfishing Mitigate Climate Change?, have called for immediate action by governments worldwide to end overfishing in order to mitigate the impacts of climate change on the world’s oceans.

The European Commission said today that it will not take emergency measures this winter to tackle the tragic death of dolphins caught in fishing nets.  Last winter, around 1200 cetaceans – almost all identified as common dolphins – washed ashore along the French Atlantic coast. 85 percent of these dolphins died after being caught up in fishing nets.

A successful European Green Deal must protect the ocean, as was also made clear in an open letter by 50 NGOs to Ms von der Leyen, President-elect of the European Commission, Mr Michel, President-elect of the European Council and Mr Sassoli, President of the European Parliament and the recent Council Conclusions on Oceans and Seas.

On Tuesday 19 November, Ministers for European Affairs adopted a set of conclusions that stress that climate change is a direct and existential threat to life in oceans and seas globally. Member States unanimously agreed the need for immediate action against increasing threats to our ocean, seas and coastal areas and invited the Commission to put forward policy options.

London, 15th November 2019. The lack of progress and low ambition shown at this week’s round of negotiations to reduce shipping’s contribution to the climate crisis is deeply concerning and disappointing, the Clean Shipping Coalition (CSC) has said. Two years after agreeing its initial greenhouse gas strategy, a meeting of the UN maritime agency, the IMO, did little more than review options already on the table and gave far too much time to technical measures that will deliver too little too late.

In the first major vote of the new European Parliament's Committee on Fisheries, its 28 members have today decided to reopen the floodgates of overfishing in Europe. (1) By 20 votes against 6 (and 2 abstentions), they confirmed the catastrophic position adopted by the former Parliament in April 2019 (2). Among other things, this position reintroduced public aid for building new vessels, although such subsidies were banned in 2004 because of their direct role in overfishing. 

On the eve of the latest round of UN ship climate negotiations at the International Maritime Organisation in London, a new report published by Seas at Risk and Transport & Environment has highlighted how slower ship speeds would massively reduce the damage shipping is causing to human health, nature and the climate.

On April 2019, the former European Parliament adopted a disastrous position on the next European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF, 2021-2027) that, if finally adopted, would further damage the future of our ocean and fishers.

In Europe, waste fishing gear (e.g. nets and ropes) are among the 10 most common marine litter items found on beaches, accounting for 27% of the total, according to the European Joint Research Centre. Fishing gear is made of plastic and has a short lifecycle, while waste management and recycling of fishing gear is very scarce, with few incentives and only limited systems in place at ports. This is exacerbated by the fact that fishing gear is not (yet) designed for reuse and recycling, and clean-up activities and targeted recycling projects fail to prevent further leakage into the sea.

Plastics are convenient and undoubtedly make our lives easier. They are cheap, light, durable and resistant to water and oil. What we often forget, however, is that they are a long-lasting material so when we use them to make products intended to have a very short life span – maybe even single-use - we are creating an unsustainable cycle. Our indiscriminate use of plastic has created a global waste management crisis whose consequences are now evident. Mountains of plastics float in the oceans and harm marine life, microplastics end up in our food and drinks, and even in our bodies. Recycling is often touted as the solution – but is it a real and viable solution?

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