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On 24 March, hundreds of EU staff in Belgium have spent their lazy Sunday on the beach. “What’s new?” you might wonder. Well, they didn’t come for sunbathing, even if the weather was good for it. Nor for taking an early dip into the sea – though swimming in ice cold water is something of a national tradition here (“ijsberen”, or acting like an ice bear). Equipped with gloves, bags, litter picking sticks and a host of 12-starred paraphernalia, officials from the Commission and other institutions came to clean the beach, ahead of the tourist season.

On 19 March, more than 1000 people gathered in Brussels for this year’s largest EU event on oceans. Organised by MEP Gesine Meissner and European Commissioner Karmenu Vella, the event hosted our continent’s most influential advocates for healthy, safe and sustainable oceans. And with a large delegation of students and youth organisations in the room, the conference was more than an interesting recap of today’s status quo. It was a plea for even more ambition, from policy makers, companies and civil society, to safeguard the most precious organism of our planet: our ocean.