The Commission received views from over 90 governments, public bodies, NGOs, industry representatives, academics and other stakeholders within and outside of Europe. They represent all levels, from sub-national and national to European and international. In addition, Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Karmenu Vella has travelled from Portugal to Ireland, Washington, Malta, Norway, Alaska, Chile, Spain and China to collect views, as international discussion on the topic is mounting due to the increasing use of marine resources.
Commissioner Vella remarked: "Governance gaps exist when it comes to managing our oceans sustainably. This puts our marine resources and environments at risk. Better managed oceans are healthier oceans – and healthy oceans are the basis for blue growth and a thriving ocean economy. I am convinced that the responses we have received will allow us to make solid proposals that further build on the existing cooperation and dialogue with our international partners."
International rules and structures for managing the oceans exist, but they are not always applied effectively and coherently. For instance, it is estimated that some 300 UN-related agencies and associated accords, including the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), are involved in governing the oceans: from territorial waters to the high seas, and from fish stock management to access to minerals on the seabed beyond the continental shelf.
The Commission is now analysing the contributions received. Based on the views gathered, it will launch an initiative on international ocean governance next year.