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14 November 2018

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.

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30 October 2018

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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30 October 2018

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.

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30 October 2018

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).

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23 October 2018

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.

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19 October 2018

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.

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27 September 2018

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.

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26 September 2018

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.

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13 September 2018

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.

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12 September 2018

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.

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10 September 2018

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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05 September 2018

A coalition of 15 German environmental, development and human rights NGOs, including Seas At Risk member BUND, issued a position paper ‘Stop the exploitation of the deep sea!’, in which they demand the Federal Government reverse its political position and move decisively away from the depletion of the deep sea.

The German government supports a number of industry and research initiatives, both politically and financially, that significantly promote deep sea mining. These include sponsorship of two exploration contracts with the International Seabed Authority (ISA), for contracts held by the Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources of Germany, one for nodules in the Clarion-Clipperton Zone in the Pacific Ocean and another for polymetallic sulphides in the Central Indian Ocean.

The NGOs, all of which are members of the German NGO Working Group on Deep Sea Mining, are calling for a substantial rethink and change in policy-making. The group highlights the severe environmental risks of deep sea mining and warns the government of its impact on the lives of coastal inhabitants. They are particularly concerned about the Pacific region, where extraction is likely to start, and where much of the population relies on subsistence fisheries and tourism and is thus heavily dependent on a normally functioning environment.

The NGOs demand that the German government suspend its exploration licences, exclude deep sea mining from future promotion of foreign trade and investment, take action at EU level to ensure no further support for future research funding programmes for deep sea mining in the Pacific region, and undertake stronger action for designating marine conservation areas.

This is another important step in the growing global resistance of NGOs to deep sea mining. It follows July’s action by Seas At Risk, together with Greenpeace, in leading a world-wide coalition of 50 NGOs demanding that the international community invest fully in sustainable consumption and production instead of venturing into deep sea mining.

The position paper in German is available here.

20 August 2018

In the run up to the European elections in May 2019, Seas At Risk’s member, Surfrider Foundation Europe launched the Voice For the Ocean campaign. The aim is to encourage citizens to “make their voice heard” and speak up for the ocean by completing an online survey.

The consultation addresses eight issues that are crucial for the ocean and for society as a whole, from water pollution and exploitation of natural resources to coastal management and ocean literacy. The online survey is open until mid-December 2018, and is available in English, German, Spanish, French, Portuguese and Bulgarian.

Once the survey has closed, Surfrider will compile the results and share a summary with the candidates for the European elections. Surfrider Foundation and Seas At Risk hope that politicians will consider the priorities expressed by citizens, and include the protection of the ocean as an important issue in their election programmes.

The campaign can be followed on Twitter at @VFTO_EU.

 

 

11 July 2018

The European Parliament's Environment Committee today voted to strengthen the European Commission’s Plastics Strategy, which aims to reduce plastic pollution and marine litter.

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09 July 2018

As European political parties prepare for the 2019 elections to the European Parliament, Seas At Risk publishes its ‘Manifesto for the sea, calling on politicians to put the protection of seas and oceans high on their election programmes.

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27 June 2018

15 marine conservation NGOs from Spain and Portugal, including Seas At Risk members Sciaena, LPN, GEOTA, Quercus and ENT Foundation, have agreed to coordinate their work on key marine conservation issues. Their first joint meeting took place on 11 June 2018 and discussed Iberian sardine stock, deep sea fishing opportunities and full implementation of the Common Fisheries Policy.  

Nature does not comply with man-made boundaries, and Portuguese and Spanish fishermen have long shared fishing stocks. Iberian NGOs recognise the need to collaborate closely to improve the health of marine ecosystems in the region, given the deep geographical, biological, social, economic and political connection between Spain and Portugal. The recent collapse of sardine stock, for example, was a stark reminder of the need for greater cooperation in the region.   

The marine conservation NGOs agreed that full implementation of the Common Fisheries Policy is crucial. The Portuguese and Spanish Ministries must take the lead in Europe and follow the best available scientific advice to restore and maintain fish populations at sustainable levels by 2020. In the past, Portugal and Spain have often been reluctant to respect the Common Fisheries Policy, and the Iberian NGOs are seeking to meet with the European Commissioner of the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella, to discuss the gravity of the situation in the region.

The Portuguese and Spanish NGOs agreed that both countries need to be more proactive in promoting sustainable management of small-scale and low-impact fisheries, and to work closely together towards sound management of the Natura 2000 network. The challenges faced in Iberian waters go far beyond fisheries, with marine litter, oil and gas extraction plans, unsustainable river basin management, and pollution all requiring joint action. The Iberian NGOs thus agreed to compile a list of cooperation areas, as well as creating a shared communication platform to increase their capacity to deal with these environmental challenges.   

27 June 2018

The European Parliament recently approved the own initiative report on sustainable and competitive aquaculture. Regrettably, MEPs failed to take the opportunity to develop a new vision for European aquaculture, instead choosing to simply reiterate the conclusions from EU reports published five years ago.

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26 June 2018

The next EU legislative period will start in July 2019, from which time the European Parliament will no longer use single-use plastic bottles at its facilities and meetings. On 11 June, the Bureau of the Parliament agreed to include new conditions in its upcoming canteen and catering contract, disallowing the delivery of plastic bottles to Parliament facilities. Instead, the number of drinking water fountains will be extended to facilitate the use of reusable bottles at Parliament facilities.

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11 June 2018

This summer, unique whale research vessel Song of the Whale will be leading a new project studying whales and other cetaceans. The research project is supported by Seas at Risk’s member, International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and other partners, and aims to establish cetacean abundance and distribution in the Mediterranean Sea and contiguous Atlantic areas. The collection of up-to-date data on whale populations will allow for swift responses to the threats faced by species in the region.

The project was officially launched on World Oceans Day, 8 June, with Song of the Whale arriving in the Spanish port of Malaga, where it was hosted by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

This new research project, also known as the 2018 ACCOBAMS Survey Initiative is an international collaborative survey, which aims to better understand the conservation status of cetaceans at the macro-regional level in the Mediterranean/Black Sea, optimise monitoring in the long-term, and improve regional cooperation on protection of marine biodiversity.

Local scientists will participate in the survey, which includes aerial and vessel-based research and uses both visual survey methods and passive acoustic monitoring (PAM). While cetaceans are the primary focus, data will also be collected on marine turtles, swordfish, giant devil rays and marine debris.

Whales face increasingly diverse and complex threats, with some species already endangered and others in continuing population decline as a result of human activities. IFAW is leading the fight to save marine mammals from such threats, through a mix of campaigning, research and rescue operations. Recently, long-time IFAW partner, Dr Alexandros Frantzis, together with IFAW’s marine mammal scientist, Russell Leaper, highlighted the urgent need to reduce the risk of vessel strikes with sperm whales within the Hellenic Trench, Greece. IFAW is providing support to the ACCOBAMS Survey initiative which will allow the Song of the Whale team to survey this high priority area of action, given the need to reduce the risk of vessel strikes.

IFAW and the Song of the Whale team have a long history of involvement in marine mammal conservation, including very early monk seal conservation efforts in Greece in the 1980s and later monk seal research projects in Turkey and Morocco. In 1994, they studied large whales in the Ligurian Sea to support the designation of the Pelagos Sanctuary, and, in 2003, were involved in the first ACCOBAMS partnership project on acoustic research techniques within the Ionian Sea, as part of the planning for that basin-wide survey.

For more than four decades, IFAW has successfully campaigned on whale welfare and conservation issues. Its work includes supporting pioneering benign research projects, driving habitat protection measures, and using international conventions and legal strategies to end commercial whaling. In addition, it has worked to publicise the economic pitfalls of whale hunting and highlight the economic opportunities presented by whale watching. The IFAW also focuses on less well-known issues, such as the threats posed by ship strikes and ocean noise. All of IFAW’s work is based on the best available science, and that is why for this World Oceans Day IFAW decided to celebrate their involvement in the 2018 ACCOBAMS Survey Initiative. 

04 June 2018

President Tajani’s response to NGOs’ challenge to ban single-use plastics from the European Parliament is disappointing, and serves to highlight that the Parliament could do considerably more to reduce waste generation. The imminent renewal of its catering contract, however, presents an ideal opportunity to implement real change.

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