Habitat Protection

Protecting 30% of the Ocean

The target to protect 30% of the world’s marine habitats by 2030 can only be reached if sustainable fishing practices are put in place and Marine Protected Areas are truly protected and properly managed.



Oceana calls for strong EU leadership concerning marine biodiversity conservation, to ensure that the EU Nature legislation is well implemented and the EU 2030 Biodiversity Strategy delivers a healthy, productive, and resilient ocean by 2030.

In 2020, the EU committed to protecting 30% of its seas by 2030, including 10% under strict protection for areas of high biodiversity value. This represents an ambitious two-fold challenge for EU Member States to further increase the coverage of their networks of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), and to ensure their effective management.

In line with scientific advice, Oceana campaigns to achieve at least 30% of EU seas under strict protection, where no destructive or industrial activities are allowed (including bottom trawling).  We also advocate to create no-take zones, the highest level of protection for MPAs. No-take zones are the most effective types of MPAs for rebuilding biodiversity and fisheries, and for enhancing the resilience of ecosystems to climate change – yet currently less than 1% of EU waters are strictly protected.

Oceana’s at-sea expeditions are a unique tool to increase our knowledge about the ocean and to help gather data on the distribution and condition of marine habitats and species, which can then be turned into new proposals for MPAs. Oceana’s work, in collaboration with national administrations, research institutes and universities, has resulted in the creation of vital MPAs in several European countries, including Denmark, Malta, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and the UK.

Despite having policy commitments and legislation in place for more than 30 years (via the Natura 2000 network),  marine biodiversity in the EU continues to decline. The EU’s ambition, set out in the Biodiversity Strategy and in its climate policies, will not be met by 2030 without increased efforts by Member States to create more MPAs, but most importantly to better protect and manage them so they can deliver their benefits to the ocean. This will also require restructuring the EU fishing fleet to significantly reduce the impacts of destructive fishing (particularly bottom-towed gear) on marine ecosystems and to put European fishing fleets on a path to adapt to the climate emergency.  To support such an ambitious transition, Oceana is campaigning to influence the way policies are designed and implemented, particularly the Common Fisheries Policy, the Habitats and Birds Directive, the EU Nature Restoration law and the Marine Strategy Framework Directive.