Marine habitats in European seas found in bad shape

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None of the protected areas in the Atlantic, Baltic and Mediterranean waters have been found in good conditions, according to the European Environment Agency (EEA).

The EEA published the State of Nature report, assessing the status of habitats and species in Europe protected under the Natura 2000 network over the period 2007-2012. While the study found some improvements thanks to conservation measures on the ground, the situation for European seas is more critical.

The results are mixed but clear. When implemented well, conservation measures work and improve the status of habitats and species on the ground. Such improvements remain limited and patchy, and unfortunately Europe’s biodiversity is still being eroded overall and the pressures continue”, said EEA executive director Hans Bruyninckx.

In the Atlantic, 71% of marine habitats are in unfavourable status; this rises to 86% in the Baltic sea. In the Mediterranean 62% of marine habitats are in bad shape, with similar figures found for the status of marine species too.

Lasse Gustavsson, executive director for marine conservation group Oceana in Europe said, “Weak or non-existent management is the primary reason why most marine Natura 2000 sites are not yet delivering conservation results for Europe’s marine heritage. For instance, most are entirely lacking fisheries regulations, even though fisheries are recognised as the major threat inside these areas.

“By failing to properly manage sites, or monitor their effects on threatened species and habitats, Member States are blocking their own efforts from succeeding.”

Globally, the oceans are threatened by a mix of phenomena, such as overfishing, pollution, marine litter and warmer temperatures caused by climate change. Last year, European seas and oceans were also found to be damaged by the fishing industry.

Photo: Sachitha Obeysekara  via Flickr

 

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Further reading:

Helena Bonham Carter joins calls for vast UK marine reserves

Finding the right balance between nature conservation and fisheries management – who will pull the strings?

Governments have failed to protect wildlife, UN biodiversity report finds

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European seas and oceans ‘not in good shape’, EU warns