Speaking in a debate on two resolutions – relating to Oceans and the Law of the Sea, and to Sustainable Fisheries – the EU underlined the importance of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) as the overarching legal framework for ocean governance, and expressed its conviction that the goal of universal participation in this Convention would one day be met. However, the EU also stressed that the Convention should remain relevant and able to meet current and future challenges and consequently was looking forward to the negotiation of the new implementing agreement for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction.
The EU also expressed concern with regard to the problem of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fisheries, which hampers achieving sustainable fisheries. It stressed that penalties for IUU fishing should be severe enough to effectively secure compliance, deter further violations and deprive offenders of the benefits from such activities. The EU also encouraged States to ratify the FAO Port State Measures Agreement as a further step in the fight against IUU fishing, so that it could enter into force as quickly as possible.
Commenting on today's debate, European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella, reiterated the importance of an international approach to ocean governance and sustainable fisheries: "Improving ocean governance is not for the EU or any State acting on its own. Cooperation of all States is required to ensure that the world's oceans are healthy, clean and productive in the long term, so that they can continue to contribute to sustainable development. Sustainably managed oceans can stimulate economic growth and employment, and will allow the international community to meet its global targets, including the reduction of poverty and hunger. The world and future generations deserve no less. The European Commission will be launching a new initiative next year through which we will promote improved ocean governance in line with the international commitments of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda."
The EU is the world’s biggest market for seafood and a major player in areas like shipping, marine renewables, marine technology and research. As such, it remains committed to being a responsible maritime power and to working closely with other States in international fora, not least by entering into regional and international partnerships and agreements.