Europe’s seas: productive, but not healthy or clean

Source: EEA

The European Union’s Blue Growth agenda aims to harness further the potential of Europe’s oceans, seas and coasts for jobs, economic value and sustainability. A new report published today by the European Environment Agency (EEA) shows that, despite some improvements, the way we use our seas remains unsustainable and threatens not only the productivity of our seas, but also our wellbeing. Human activities and climate change are increasingly putting a number of pressures on Europe’s seas, the cumulative effects of which threaten the functioning and resilience of marine ecosystems.

In line with the development of the European Union’s (EU) Blue Growth objectives, which aspire to greater and sustainable use of the seas’ potential, the EEA’s new ‘State of Europe’s seas’ report examines whether the EU is meeting its policy goals for the quality of the marine environment.

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SOER 2015 — The European environment — state and outlook 2015

Source: EEA

The synthesis report informs future European environmental policy in general and its implementation between 2015 and 2020 in particular. It includes a reflection on the European environment in a global context, as well as chapters summarising the state of, trends in, and prospects for the environment in Europe.

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Pups flourish at Blakeney Point as grey sea colony becomes biggest breeding site in England

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A grey seal colony has seen the number of pups born each year increase a hundred-fold in just 14 years to become the biggest breeding site for the animals in England. North Norfolk’s Blakeney Point is managed by the National Trust and saw 2,426 seals born this year, almost double the number born there two years ago. The success of the colony, which has grown exponentially since the first 25 pups were born there 14 years ago, is due to the remote, sheltered beach which is safe from predators and other disturbances.

To prevent walkers disturbing the seals, which can increase the chance of fighting among the adults and lead to the pups being crushed, National Trust rangers and volunteers fenced off the westerly-most mile of Blakeney Point’s beach and dunes. Boat trips run regularly from nearby Morston offering good views of the seals. The sheltered, sandy beach providing plenty of space to support the large seal numbers which keeps mortality rates low. For example, in December 2013, seal rookeries across England were devastated by a tidal surge which hit the English coastline. At Blakeney Point, the height of sand dunes kept the colony protected, so they were barely affected.

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Blakeney Point (officially called Blakeney National Nature Reserve) is a National Nature Reserve situated near to the villages of Blakeney, Morston and Cley next the sea on the north coast of Norfolk, England. Its main feature is a 6.4 km (4 mi) spit ofshingle and sand dunes, and the reserve also includes salt marshes, tidal mudflats and reclaimed farmland. It has been managed by the National Trust since 1912, and is in the North Norfolk Coast Site of Special Scientific Interest, which is additionally protected through Natura 2000, Special Protection Area (SPA), International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Ramsar listings. The reserve is part of both an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), and a World Biosphere Reserve.

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Further information:

Guardian Article: Pup numbers boom at English seal colony

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/jan/19/seal-pup-numbers-england-colony-blakeney-point


BBC Winterwatch: Blakeney Point seals filmed at night</strong
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http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-norfolk-30862195

Blakeney seal colony: Norfolk reserve records record-breaking pup numbers
http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-norfolk-30320219

Express website article : Blakeney Point: The home of England’s largest grey seal colony
http://www.express.co.uk/news/nature/552871/Blakeney-Point-Winter-Watch-England-s-biggest-grey-seal-colony

Civil Society and Public Engagement in European Seabed Mining, Including EU Consultation and EU Midas Project

By Magdalena A K Muir
In March 2014, the European Commission launched a consultation on seabed mining.The consultation closed on 20 June 2014. Since that time, EC has reported that there were 206 replies with a selection of private bodies, public authorities, researchers and replies. Another 515 respondents, rather than replying to the questions, sent individual e-mails.  Further information and links to the responses for this consultation are provided below. The EC has not yet released any summary or analysis of these responses, though apparently efforts are underway.

The EU-sponsored MIDAS (Managing Impacts of Deep-seA reSource exploitation) project stated that it would provide parameters to support the further development of EU and international regulations for economically viable, environmentally sound and socially acceptable resource exploration and extraction. Science-policy interaction processes would be developed, informed by existing legal and policy frameworks, improved tools for integrating deep-sea impacts and values, the best available science, as well as an understanding of technological capabilities and economic feasibility. At that time, MIDAS stated it would ensure  the integration of civil society perspectives by facilitating wider stakeholder consultations.

Upon inquiry to the MIDAS project in 2014, the Coastal and Marine Union (EUCC) was informed that there would be an opportunity for ENGOs and civil society to participate in two meetings planned with civil society organizations, as part of a consultative process with civil society organizations for the policy recommendations that will form part of the final project report in November 2016. In addition, there would be at least one conference during the project open to all stakeholders. It was also stated that information would also be provided ton an ongoing basis.

In response to an EUCC inquiry in January 2015, the MIDAS project stated that it is planning a NGO consultation or workshop on deep-sea mining for sometime in April or May 2015.  This workshop would likely be co-organised by Seas At Risk and the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition and will include a discussion of the MIDAS Project and input from participants to the project. This event is still in the planning stages,and the project does not have any further details to share at this stage. Further information on the MIDAS project is available at their website here  or at http://www.eu-midas.net/

Therefore, the MIDAS project component for the integration of civil society perspective is not yet underway despite that project being midway to completion. This suggests that any civil society engagement under the project will be limited and non very interactive. Furthre, this suggests the EC should not rely on  MIDAS project to meet the requirements of civil society and public engagement in the development of European policy for seabed mining; or as substantively developing social or public acceptance acceptance for this mining.
As the summary of civil society and public participation in the EU consultation on seabed mining (links included below) confirms:
– A broad cross section of civil society and the public are interested in the development of policy for seabed mining, and represent diverse interests and contributions.
– Further, civil society and the public are likely to participate in further discussions and the development of European policy if appropriate and timely opportunities and resources are provided.
-Finally, it is suggested that the next steps in the EU consultation on seabed mining, and the development of European policy include mechanisms, processes and support for civil society and public participation.
Further Information on EU Consultation on Seabed Mining
See following link here for more information on this EU consultation: 
Complete responses to EU stakeholder survey on seabed mining are available here:
Summary of Civil Society participants and their participation is found here.