The European Maritime Day is being celebrated with a conference titled “Putting People First”. Around 1000 participants have gathered in the Polish coastal city to discuss the challenges currently facing maritime sectors in Europe.

The European Commission has launched a public consultation on plastic carrier bags and in particular is assessing the effectiveness of a ban or levy to discourage and reduce their use.

With blatant disregard for the EU’s commitments on climate change and biodiversity loss, and in a move that could encourage further overfishing of depleted fish stocks, European Parliamentarians have voted favourably on a resolution urging the European Commission to increase national fuel subsidies for the fishing industry.

Reports of EU plans to pay fishers to catch plastic, rather than fish, is a double edged sword: cleaning up marine litter is desperately needed but paying fishers to collect plastic in a manner that keeps afloat a largely unsustainable industry is tantamount to an environmentally damaging subsidy.

The European Commission has published a new Biodiversity Strategy, aimed at achieving the headline target of halting the loss of biodiversity and the degradation of ecosystem services in the EU by 2020, and restoring them in so far as feasible, while stepping up the EU contribution to averting global biodiversity loss.

Several Members of the European Parliament are rallying for support to double the allowance of national aid for fishermen to €60,000 per enterprise - Seas At Risk and other environmental organisations strongly oppose such an increase.

On the 20th April 2010 an offshore drilling rig in the US Gulf coast exploded, killing 11 workers and leading to the release of an estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil into the marine environment. It is one of the worst environmental disasters ever recorded and has highlighted the risky business of offshore oil drilling and the devastating impacts that can result from such activity. The event has also acted as a catalyst for a European and global response to ensure that lessons are learned and actions are taken to fully protect against oil spills from offshore installations.

A 500 tonne cargo of suspected illegally caught fish worth millions of Euros has been seized by Spanish authorities, adding to a 600 tonne catch already being investigated in the port.

A U.N. backed study has concluded that fertilizing the oceans to boost the growth of tiny plants that would absorb green house gases is unlikely to work as a way to slow climate change.

Commissioner Damanaki has announced that the long awaited Commission proposal for a reformed Common Fisheries Policy will be ready on the 13th of July. Parliament and Council will then decide on the contents through the ordinary legislative procedure.

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