From this year on, 20 May will be European maritime day.
Europe's seas are threatened by pollution and the degradation of ecosystems from overfishing, oil spills and climate change. The EU's new maritime policy provides an integrated response to these threats and a constructive approach to capitalising on the assets of Europe's coastal regions.
The annual maritime day is intended to raise public awareness of the importance of Europe's seas, highlight the economic importance of its maritime industry and raise the profile of its coastal regions. It will also promote Europe's maritime identity, and emphasise how the seas help Europe meet the challenges of globalisation.
The EU is also active in protecting and conserving the marine environment, pushing for more rigorous safety standards and combating illegal fishing.
The first European maritime day included a conference on regional approaches to maritime policy and its implementation.
A number of regional celebrations are also taking place in the same week:
One example of the EU's focus on maritime issues is its work to safeguard the 2008 eastern bluefin tuna fishery. There is a strong risk of overfishing again this year because of the overcapacity of the European fishing fleet.