8 June, World Ocean Day: The ocean is key to securing the EU’s future

Press Release Date: June 6, 2024



Natividad Sánchez | email: nsanchez@oceana.org | tel.: +34 687 598 529

On World Ocean Day, Oceana calls on all candidates to the European Parliament to restore ocean health to support our food supply, jobs,
and resilience to the climate crisis

On World Ocean Day, which this year coincides with the European elections, Oceana urges incoming EU leaders to ensure that ocean life is restored to abundance. A healthy ocean is essential to addressing many of Europe’s current challenges, regarding employment, a reliable food supply, security, and climate resilience.

“It is simply naïve to pretend that we can face a planetary crisis if we weaken the largest ecosystem on Earth – the ocean. We can’t afford to degrade marine habitats that should be home to plentiful wildlife and are key to our resilience to climate impacts. Protecting and restoring the ocean is a need, not a luxury,” said Pascale Moehrle, Oceana’s Vice-President in Europe. 

Marine life plays a key role in the planetary carbon cycle. Covering over two-thirds of the planet, the ocean has already absorbed over 90% of the excess heat caused by anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. Yet, the combined pressure of increased marine temperatures, overfishing, habitat destruction, and pollution is putting the ocean’s ability to perform this buffering function at risk. Meanwhile, rising sea levels and increasingly severe extreme weather events are making people, businesses, and infrastructure increasingly vulnerable to health, supply chain, and security concerns.

“Without the ocean, we would not have a liveable planet. It’s a welcome coincidence that this year’s World Ocean Day coincides with the elections to the European Parliament. In a world stricken by geopolitical instability, economic volatility, and extreme weather events, the EU’s new leadership must ensure that the ocean can remain a source of sustainable food, jobs, and energy. It’s time to prioritise policies that benefit EU citizens and nature, not just business interestssaid Vera Coelho, Oceana’s deputy Vice-President in Europe.

The political debates preceding the European elections have primarily focused on concerns relating to cost of living, economic inequalities, geopolitical instability, and energy security. Yet, the increase in the pace and severity of climate-related impacts underlines the necessity to accelerate action on climate and nature. The EU has jurisdiction over the largest maritime area in the world, and therefore has a significant role to play in ensuring the sustainability of ocean activities which, in turn, can hold the key to tackling societal challenges.

By rebuilding fish stocks through science-based fisheries management and habitat protection, the EU can ensure the long-term reliability of seafood supply. It can also enhance global sustainability by requiring that access to its seafood market (among the largest in the world) is restricted to seafood that is legally and sustainably caught, and fully traceable.

Rebuilding fish populations must go hand-in-hand with securing employment and wider social benefits in coastal communities, by allocating higher quotas to small-scale, low-impact fleets, which create more jobs and have a reduced impact on seabed habitats and vulnerable species.

Effectively protected and restored marine habitats sustain balanced, abundant, marine life that spills over to neighbouring areas and increases the ocean’s overall resilience to the climate crisis. Coastal and marine habitats are also important carbon stores and can act as barriers against climate-related impacts, such as storms.

These measures, together with investment in renewable marine energies, are ocean-based solutions to tackle societal challenges from job creation to climate resilience. It is time for EU leaders to seize these opportunities to offer real solutions to the immense challenges facing Europe and our blue planet.