According to a recent statement, 102 environmental organizations, led by Seas At Risk, BirdLife Europe, ClientEarth, Oceana, Surfrider Foundation Europe and WWF are launching the “Blue Manifesto.”
Namely, the rescue plan outlines concrete actions that must be delivered by set dates with the aim to “turn the tide on the ever-degraded and polluted ocean and coastlines.”
As stressed by recent reports released by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and by the UN Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, the current situation in marine ecosystems globally is alarming.
Samantha Burgess, Head of Marine Policy at WWF European Policy Office explains that
Urgent action must be taken to ensure the resilience of our ocean in the face of the climate emergency, beginning with the restoration of marine biodiversity. A network of Marine Protected Areas covering at least 30% of the ocean with long term budgets and management plans, alongside planned and sustainable management for the remaining 70%, will support thriving marine ecosystems. The EU must ensure effective policy implementation to deliver this vision.
According to the statement, Europe can play a leading role in facing this challenge. In fact, Pascale Moehrle, Executive Director of Oceana Europe commented that “The EU has more water than land surface and, as a world economic power, should lead by example. EU seas are extensively used and need to be restored to their former abundant state rather soon. The EU must urgently act to ensure that all fishing is sustainable. It is in the hands of EU decision-makers to take action. Vibrant oceans mean healthier global ecosystems.”
The NGOs note that change is needed on both land and sea and call for:
- At least 30% of the ocean to be highly or fully protected by 2030;
- Shift to low-impact fishing;
- Securing a pollution-free ocean;
- Planning of human activities that support the restoration of thriving marine ecosystems.
Adhering to the recommendations presented in the Blue Manifesto can “put Europe on the right track to protect and restore the ocean, which is under increasing threat and on which life on Earth depends.”
What is more, the European Commission has committed to implement real climate and biodiversity strategies that will shift investment and legislation towards a climate-resilient and ecologically diverse future, with the European Green Deal.
Adding to this, Flaminia Tacconi, EU fisheries lawyer of ClientEarth stated that “Sustainable fisheries law with ambitious environmental objectives will need to be implemented and enforced to have healthy oceans by 2030. We also need to promote a strong culture of compliance through transparent, reliable and accountable decisions in the EU.”
Bruna Campos, Senior Marine Policy Officer, BirdLife Europe & Central Asia commented that
Saving the oceans means saving both marine species and their habitats. It is about actively restoring our seabeds and halting ongoing destructive fishing. It is incomprehensible how fishing vessels are still allowed to bycatch dolphins, seabirds and sea turtles. We need a transformative change to save our oceans in the next ten years. Nature at sea is in crisis because we lack commitment to change the status quo, and we can no longer afford it.
The NGOs now ask the European Commission to ensure the ocean is an integral part of these strategies by following the guidelines proposed in the Blue Manifesto, and invite citizens, institutions and stakeholders to participate in the free activities organized during “Ocean Week” from February 3 to 9, 2020, in order to exchange experiences and solutions on the challenges life in ocean and coastal communities are facing.