International ocean governance: EU's contribution

14 Nov 2016
Karmenu Vella: “We are announcing an agenda for improving the way oceans are managed, reducing human pressure on our oceans”

Karmenu Vella: “We are announcing an agenda for improving the way oceans are managed, reducing human pressure on our oceans”

The European Commission and the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy have adopted a Joint Communication which proposes actions for safe, secure, clean and sustainably managed oceans.

Above all, the proposal aims to set out an agenda for better ocean governance based on a cross-sectoral, rules-based international approach.

Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries said: “We are announcing an agenda for improving the way oceans are managed, reducing human pressure on our oceans, and investing in science. This will ensure that marine resources are used sustainably, for healthy marine eco-systems and a thriving ocean economy.”

The proposal sets out 14 sets of actions in three priority areas - Improving the international ocean governance framework, reducing human pressure on the oceans and creating the conditions for a sustainable blue economy and strengthening international ocean research and data.

When it comes to improving international ocean governance framework, the Commission said that existing ocean rules need to be further developed and better enforced, for example to address areas beyond national jurisdiction or implement internationally agreed Sustainable Development Goals, such as creating the 10% target for Marine Protected Areas by 2020.

To do this the EU will cooperate with international partners to ensure implementation and by 2018 the Commission will also produce guidance on the exploration and exploitation of natural resources in areas under national jurisdiction.

Reducing human pressure on the oceans and creating the conditions for a sustainable blue economy is also high on the agenda.

Combatting illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing (IUU) is a priority for the EU. It said it will promote multilateral action and strengthen the role of Interpol in fighting IUU fishing plus launch a pilot project to monitor illegal fishing worldwide using satellite communications.

Under the "Circular Economy Action Plan", the EU will propose a strategy on plastics by 2017, which will contribute to reducing marine litter by at least 30% by 2020.

With regards to strengthening international ocean research and data the EU is of the view that understanding and sound scientific knowledge is essential to sustainably manage ocean resources and reduce human pressure.

The EU's Blue Data Network, the European Marine Observation and Data Network, provides data from over 100 marine research bodies and is accessible to all. The Commission will propose how to develop this database into a worldwide marine data network.

The proposed actions will now be discussed with the EU Member States in the Council and the European Parliament.

The new proposal is an integral part of the EU's response to the United Nations' 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, in particular Sustainable Development Goal 14 ‘to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources'.

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