We are Mediterranean


Written by 80 European scientific experts from more than 25 institutions, this first Copernicus Marine Service Ocean State Report is a step forward into the development of regular annual reporting on the state and health of the Global Ocean and European Seas based on CMEMS capabilities.

The Copernicus Marine Service Ocean State Report provides an annual report of the state of the global ocean and European regional seas for ocean community, policy and decision-makers with the additional aim of increasing general public awareness about the status of, and changes in, the marine environment.

The Ocean State Report draws on expert analysis and provides a 4-D view(through reanalysis systems), from above (through remote sensing data) and directly from the interior (through in situ measurements) of the blue (hydrography, currents), white (sea ice) and green (e.g. Chlorophyll) global ocean and the European Seas.

This first issue delivers guidance on the physical…

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Marine Pollution included Indonesia pledges $1bn a year to curb ocean waste under UN Clean Seas

2000Indonesia has pledged up to $1bn a year to dramatically reduce the amount of plastic and other waste products polluting its waters. The announcement was made by Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, Indonesia’s coordinating minister for maritime affairs at last week’s 2017 World Oceans Summit in Nusa Dua, Bali.

Pandjaitan told delegates at the conference that Indonesia would achieve a 70% reduction in marine waste within eight years. He proposed developing new industries that use biodegradable materials such as cassava and seaweed to produce plastic alternatives. Other measures could include a nationwide tax on plastic bags as well as a sustained public education campaign.

The World Bank estimates that each of Indonesia’s 250 million inhabitants is responsible for between 0.8 and 1kg of plastic waste per annum. Only China dumps more waste in the ocean, according to a 2015 report in the journal Science.

The world’s second biggest plastic polluter also boasts the world’s highest levels of marine biodiversity. Indonesia lies at the heart of the Coral Triangle; its incredibly rich coral reef ecosystems support crucial fisheries, provide food security for millions and are a growing draw for tourists.

Plastic pollution is just one of the threats to these ecosystems services, but it’s a serious one. A recent study suggests that by 2050, there could be more plastic than biomass in the world’s oceans. Plastics have entered the marine food chain and are already reaching our dinner plates.

Indonesia’s commitment is part of the UN’s new Clean Seas campaign, which aims to tackle consumer plastics through a range of actions – from cutting down on single use plastics such as shopping bags and coffee cups to pressuring firms to cut down on plastic packaging. Nine countries have already joined Indonesia in signing up to the campaign, including Uruguay, which will impose a tax on single use plastic bags and Costa Rica, which is promising better waste management and education.

Indonesia’s target of a 70% reduction by 2025 is ambitious. Across the country’s 17,000 islands there is poor public understanding of the problems created by plastic waste.

During rainy season, thousands of tonnes of rubbish discarded in rivers and waterways washes up on Indonesia’s shores. Heavy machinery is often brought in to clear the tourist beaches of Bali and local communities and non-profits are constantly organising large scale beach clean ups.Companies produce small scale products such as single use shampoo packets and confectionery that are popular in communities where cash flow pressures and habit prevent more sustainable consumption. Add poor waste management infrastructure and the scale of the challenge comes into sharp focus.

Last year, a tax on single use plastic bags was trialed in 23 cities across Indonesia. While the government reported a big reduction in plastic bag use, there was significant resistance both from consumers and industry, according to Siti Nurbaya, Indonesia’s minister for the environment. This is delaying a bill to impose a nationwide tax of not less than Rp.200 (1p) per plastic bag.

Environmentalists will be hoping that the promised funding effectively channels resources and expertise into public awareness and education programmes, improvements in waste management, pressure on industry and initiatives that encourage alternatives to plastic packaging. The UN Clean Seas campaign reminds us all, however, that plastic pollution is a problems we can all address with some very simple changes in behaviour.


Further information

Guardian News Article

UN Clean Seas

UN Marine Pollution Online Discussion

In the run up to the Ocean Conference in June, this blog series explores issues related to oceans, seas, marine resources and the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14, “Life below water”.


Earth’s oceans are warming 13% faster than thought, and accelerating

Source: The Guardian

An Argo float is deployed into the ocean Photograph: CSIRO

New research has convincingly quantified how much the Earth has warmed over the past 56 years. Human activities utilize fossil fuels for many beneficial purposes but have an undesirable side effect of adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere at ever-increasing rates. That increase – of over 40%, with most since 1980 – traps heat in the Earth’s system, warming the entire planet.

But how fast is the Earth warming and how much will it warm in the future? Those are the critical questions we need to answer if we are going to make smart decisions on how to handle this issue.

At any time the direct effect of this blanket is small, but the accumulated effects are huge and have consequences for our weather and climate. Over 90% of the extra heat ends up in the ocean and hence perhaps the most important measurements of global warming are made in the oceans.

Read more

European coastal regions at greatest risk from oil spills identified by new risk index

Source: Science for Environment Policy

European Atlantic countries are, in general, at higher risk of being affected by oil spills than Mediterranean and Baltic countries, with the United Kingdom most affected, according to new research. The study developed a new risk index for analysing the potential vulnerability of coastal regions to oil spills at sea.

Oil spills at sea can be devastating events. Not only does oil pollution harm marine wildlife, it can also affect coastal communities by causing fishing and recreational activities to close. To help marine policymakers, this study has proposed a method to measure and compare the risk to European coastal regions from oil spills at sea.

The method uses computer modelling to simulate the effect of an oil spill at sea along a stretch of European coastline. The modelling considers the distance to the coast from the spill, the size of the spill, the shape and length of the proportion of the coast that would be affected and the direction and speed of the ocean currents at the time of the accident. It also drew on data from actual accidental oil spills that occurred in European waters from 1970 to 2014.

This led to a marine spill risk index, which ranks each NUTS3 (Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics) region according to the risk of an oil spill at sea affecting the region. The NUTS3 divides all European countries into smaller regions; 429 of these regions in 28 European coastal countries were covered by this study. This relative risk was also illustrated in a map to identify the range of risk that different coastal territories in European waters may face from a marine spill.

The index revealed that the west coast of the UK was at highest risk of being affected by an oil spill at sea. Of the 25 regions most at risk from an oil spill, 20 were along the UK coast and the top three were all in the UK — Torbay, Swansea and Blackpool. Of the remaining five regions, four were in Greece (Argolida, Arkadia, Korinthia and Voiotia) and one was a Spanish region (Ceuta), on the north coast of Africa.

The UK’s west coast is the area with the highest risk partly as a result of ocean currents that push oil towards the coast. In general, though, sea currents tend to disperse oil away from the coastal areas in Europe.

At the country level, countries on the Atlantic European coast, including (in order of risk) the UK, Germany, Netherlands, France, Spain and Portugal, had the highest risks from oil spills. However, the Mediterranean countries of Greece, Italy, and Turkey were also among those at the most risk.

In contrast, countries including Poland, Cyprus, Albania, Lithuania and Montenegro, located around the Mediterranean and Baltic seas, had comparatively lower risks from oil spills. Iceland had the lowest risk of all the countries, despite its Atlantic location. The study suggests that, as major international and coastal shipping routes tend to be close to the shore along the European Atlantic coastline, these regions tend to have a greater marine spill risk — compared with regions in the other European seas, such as Baltic and Mediterranean waters.

The researcher suggests that some extensions to the index, such as inclusion of more complex dispersal effects i.e. the effect of dispersion of oil due to ocean currents, in addition to the spreading of oil spills, could be considered in future research.

This study could help policymakers manage risks in coastal areas by identifying regions which are the most vulnerable to the impact of an oil spill at sea, and inform protective measures against potential future spills.

Source: Fernández-Macho, J. (2016). Risk assessment for marine spills along European coastlines. Marine Pollution Bulletin. DOI:10.1016/j.marpolbul.2016.09.015


Participate online in the Ocean Forum e-discussions!

Ocean Forum discussions launch

We’re pleased to invite you to participate in the Ocean Forum online discussions,  at the Ocean Action Hub. The discussions aim to engage stakeholders in assessing the challenges and opportunities related to delivering on SDG14 implementation in the run-up to The Ocean Conference. If you’re concerned about the Ocean’s future – as an activist, scientist or government representative – visit the Forum to join the discussions!

Facilitated by expert moderators from the United Nations and civil society, each discussion focuses on one of the agreed Partnership Dialogue themes and implementation of relevant SDG targets. The results will be shared with the conference co-facilitators, Member States and others as inputs into the Partnership Dialogues, Call for Action and Voluntary Commitments processes.

Dr Muir will be speaking for EUCC on “Future Scenarios for the Arctic Ocean and Implications for Arctic High Seas Regulation, Ecosystems and IUU Fishing” n the 10th International Forum of Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing


By Dr. Magdalena A K Muir, Advisory Board Member, Climate and Global Change, EUCC; and Research Associate, Arctic Institute of North America (AINA)

On March 16 2017, Magdalena Muir will be chairing a session and speaking on behalf of EUCC and AINA in the 10th International Forum of Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing at Chatham House,taking place in London on March 16th and 17th (see agenda here Chatham House – 10th International IUU Fishing Forum – Agenda 1.0 and conference website

Dr Muir will be speaking on “Future Scenarios for the Arctic Ocean  and Implications for Arctic High Seas Regulation, Ecosystems and IUU Fishing” in the Session entitled “Tragedy of the Commons: Regulating the High Seas”.

Within her  allotted speaking time, Dr. Muir will present three future Arctic Oceans scenarios for the period of 2025 onwards that will  consider differing economic, environment and  political/governance  frameworks for the Arctic Ocean and adjacent Arctic and Arctic-engaged states including Scandinavia and Europe.

The future Arctic Ocean scenarios will be differentiated in terms of greater focus on environmental and conservation, commercial exploitation or greater militarization or governance shifts. Climate impacts, adaptation and mitigation  within the Arctic and globally will be included in all scenarios, with some variation on adaptation and mitigation under different scenarios

Dr. Muir will develop brief graphical presentation including maps to illustrate  the Arctic Oceans and the  various scenarios and to precipitate discussion among presenters and during the ensuing  Q and A session. This presentation, as well as a report from the event, will be subsequently made available on this blog.

Scenarios are being used is to provide a context for an animated discussion of the Arctic Ocean and other high seas including:near term future of the Arctic Ocean, regions within the Arctic (North America, Scandinavia, Europe and Asia), and Arctic states and other  Arctic-engaged  states; implications for IUU fisheries and their regulation in the Arctic and other high seas, and to allow comparisons and contracts between the Arctic, Antarctica and other high seas regions.

Please see document here  or link below for background information on  status of Arctic IUU fisheries:

The website for the event is available here at


Extract from Agenda 

Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing 10th International Forum 16th and 17th March, 2017

Chatham House | London Day 1: Thursday 16th March 

11:45 – 13:15 | Session 2 | ‘Tragedy of the Commons’: Regulating the High Seas 

How can the gap between international conventions and practical implementation and enforcement on the high seas be bridged? A discussion on the implications of IUU fishing on the Arctic sea will follow the formal presentations, raising important questions around fisheries management and high seas governance predominantly through the lens of the Central Arctic Ocean, which may be navigable as early as the first half of this century.

  • Are current international conventions and instruments effectively mitigating IUU fishing on the high seas?
  • How can we address the intersection of IUU fishing and sustainability in international laws on the high seas?
  • Does the establishment of the Ross Sea MPA, the largest MPA to date, present a model for future progress in governing the high seas?

Chair and Speaker: Magdalena A.K. Muir | Research Associate | Arctic Institute of North America, Universities of Calgary and Alaska Fairbanks

Speaker: Stuart Cory | Special Agent | National Program Manager | NOAA Office of Law Enforcement

Speaker: Michele Ameri | Legal Officer | UN Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea

Speaker: Jane Rumble | Head of Polar Regions Department | UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office