Maritime Affairs

Our Ocean conference: Commissioner Vella sets out EU measures to preserve the world's oceans

Our Ocean conference: Commissioner Vella sets out EU measures to preserve the world's oceans

Our Ocean conference: Commissioner Vella sets out EU measures to preserve the world's oceans

Commissioner Vella

Commissioner Karmenu Vella, responsible for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, today announced a set of actions that will include a major political initiative on international ocean governance next year. Based on a wide public consultation and listening tour, this initiative reaffirms the European Commission's commitment to better international ocean governance and will strengthen the EU’s external action in this regard.

Mr Vella was speaking at the second 'Our Ocean' conference in Valparaiso, Chile. The conference, launched last year by US Secretary of State John Kerry, brings together more than 400 leaders from government, academia, and civil society who are committed to protecting the ocean.

With ten days to go until the public consultation closes, Mr Vella has intensified dialogue with international maritime stakeholders on how to improve ocean governance globally.  Following recent stops in Norway and Washington, he is scheduled to visit Spain and China in the coming days.

In addition to ocean governance, Mr Vella highlighted actions that the EU is taking to protect and better manage its ocean areas, reduce marine pollution, ensure a better understanding of the ocean, and promote sustainable fisheries within and outside the EU:

  • Ten percent of all EU marine waters will be covered by marine protected areas by 2020. To achieve this, the EU's Member States will designate significant additional marine protected areas, as well as promote their effective management through necessary fisheries measures. Moreover, Member States will adopt innovative maritime spatial plans for all EU marine waters by 2021 to ensure their conservation and sustainable use of EU marine waters.
  • The EU will adopt a major quantitative reduction headline target for marine litter, and will cut by one half the number of single-use plastic bags in the EU by 2019, helping to address the large accumulation of plastic bag litter in the ocean.
  • The EU will until 2020 dedicate EUR 100 million a year for marine research, including in renewable energy, transport, maritime security, climate change, environment, fisheries, and aquaculture.  Work is also underway to create an unprecedented multi-resolution map of the European seabed by 2020.
  • The EU is ready to commit EUR 675 million covering the period 2016-2020 to enter into Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreements that will assist non-EU countries in developing sustainable fisheries. It will, by the end of 2015, release a proposal to better and more sustainably manage the EU's external fishing fleet.  

Mr Vella also announced his willingness to host the Our Ocean conference in 2017 in Europe.

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