The open letter is addressed towards Ursula von der Leyen, President-elect of the European Commission; Charles Michel, President-elect of the European Council; David Sassoli, President of the European Parliament.

The letter focuses on the ocean's important role in human and planet health;

It buffers us against the worst impacts of climate breakdown, generates the oxygen we breathe, and provides sustenance and livelihoods for people across the world. The ocean protects and provides for us all…

The letter urges European leaders to:

  1. End overfishing and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. All EU Institutions and member states must implement and enforce in full the Common Fisheries Policy, specifically the deadline to end overfishing by 2020.
  2. Put in place a robust High Seas Treaty by the end of 2020.
  3. Protect at least 30% of the ocean through implemented, highly and fully Protected Areas by the end of 2030, with the remaining 70% of the ocean sustainably managed.
  4. Protect the deep ocean, through a precautionary pause on deep-sea mining

Rebecca Hubbard, Program Director of Our Fish commented

The ocean cannot infinitely support our current way of life if we keep piling on pressure while demanding that it produce the oxygen we breathe, feed us, and absorb excess heat and CO2. The EU can deliver a stronger new Green Deal for Europeans by taking immediate decisive action to end all overfishing in response to the climate emergency.

In the meantime, the IPCC report highlights major threats to the ocean from climate change, such as declining fish stocks, rising sea levels and increasing ocean acidification and focuses on solutions that would help curb climate change.

Moreover, the letter states that the pressure against the ocean equals to the size of the opportunity for leadership in restoring the planet's greatest source of life. As presidents we are asking you to exercise that leadership.

Sofia Tsenikli, Senior Strategist at Greenpeace International added that the EU and its members should stay below 1.5℃ by next year and stop using fossil fuels. Also, the EU should pressure for a Global Ocean Treaty in 2020, to establish and protect a global network of ocean sanctuaries, completely off-limits to human exploitation.

Referring to deep sea mining and its fatal impact on the environment, Sian Owen, Coordinator for the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition concluded

Deep-sea mining will cause effectively permanent biodiversity loss and generate plumes, toxins, light and noise that could impact marine life far beyond actual mining sites. European Parliament adopted a resolution in 2018, calling for a moratorium on deep-sea mining until the environmental risks are fully understood. The EU must take this commitment seriously.