Source: DG MARE
What can the EU do to promote the sustainable use of seas and oceans and preserve internationally shared marine resources? How can it help secure the conditions of sustainable blue growth? European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella today announced the results of a European Commission consultation on international ocean governance which took place from June to October 2015, alongside a ‘listening tour’ with stops in Portugal, Ireland, Malta, the United States, Norway, Chile, Spain and France, among others. Coastal & Marine (EUCC) contributed to this consultation.
The public consultation aimed at assessing the current ocean governance framework and the EU’s role in achieving better ocean governance worldwide. The Commission received over 150 replies from a variety of groups, the largest being public authorities (26%), citizens (19%), NGOs and businesses (each 17%).
For the vast majority of respondents, the current framework is not effective enough: we need better implementation of rules and better coordination between existing bodies, we need to fill existing legal gaps on exploitation and we need to improve ocean knowledge. Regional Seas Conventions and Regional Fisheries Management Organisations are invaluable, but could be strengthened. Existing agreements like the FAO Port State Measures Agreement need to be ratified for them to take full effect.
Respondents confirmed that the EU has an important role to play on the international scene to tackle these challenges, particularly by exerting its economic and political weight. The EU is already spearheading the global fight against illegal fishing, pushing for a new international legal agreement under the UN to preserve marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction, and promoting research cooperation through an Atlantic Ocean research alliance with the US and Canada (the ‘Galway declaration’).
The European Commission is grateful to all those who have taken the online survey on ocean governance and plans to follow it up with a political initiative on ocean governance in the coming months.