The European Environment Agency (EEA) has said the status of Europe’s seas and oceans is damaged by the industry and that EU member states are at risk of destroying the marine ecosystem.
A report by the EEA has shed light on the conditions of seas in Europe, urging states to adopt measures to improve their health by 2020. The findings will be discussed during a conference in Brussels in March.
The report has collected data from member states on what they consider to be a “good environmental status” for their waters and on the targets they have put in place to achieve this.
However, the overall picture is worrying, with the Mediterranean and the Black Sea looking particularly threatened by overfishing, while marine litter remains a major cause of concern in the North Sea.
Environment commissioner Janez Potočnik said, “The message is clear: Europe’s seas and oceans are not in good shape. But we depend on these seas, and we need to find a balance.
“That means finding ways to reap their economic potential without increasing the pressure on an already fragile environment, creating growth and jobs that are secure in the long term.”
Meanwhile, Hans Bruyninckx, EEA executive director commented, “The rich life in Europe’s seas is an incredible asset. But we must ensure that this asset is used in a sustainable way, without surpassing the limits of what the ecosystems can provide.
“The current way we use the sea risks irreversibly degrading many of these ecosystems.”
Fewer than a fifth of species found in European seas have been found to be in good conditions, despite an increase of marine protected areas. The report recommends that countries take appropriate action and strengthen inter-state collaboration, as well as promote a more sustainable way of living and consuming.