Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Karmenu Vella said: "At the Our Ocean conference in Malta, the European Union led by putting the blue economy on the agenda for the first time. Now we are leading in the follow up. Today we launch a EUR 14.5 million investment initiative for green projects to safeguard our marine ecosystems. On ocean energy, tackling marine litter, and along Mediterranean coastlines, I am delighted that we are so quickly following up on our Our Ocean pledges."
Funded under the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, EUR 8 million from this initiative are set aside to help SMEs, including start-ups, testing novel products and services in high-potential emerging blue economy sectors, including ocean renewable energy. In order to better tackle the growing challenge of marine litter, a further EUR 2 million will target innovative technologies to prevent, monitor, remove and recycle marine litter from EU waters. Furthermore, EUR 3 million will support twinning projects in the Mediterranean Sea, including between maritime training and education institutions, blue economy businesses and local fishing communities. Finally, EUR 1.5 million is allocated to restoring marine and coastal ecosystems in the Mediterranean, including mitigation of climate change.
The Our Ocean conference (5-6 October in Malta) generated an unprecedented level of commitments : 437 were announced, including EUR 7.2 billion in financial pledges. The EU alone announced 36 commitments amounted to over EUR 550 million. Moreover, the EU–hosted conference saw for the first time large-scale mobilisation of the private sector in ocean conservation.