Oceana flags three ocean priorities to be addressed by the EU Spanish presidency

Press Release Date: June 30, 2023

Location: Madrid


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

Spain needs to ensure the adoption of the Nature Restoration Law, and show leadership on files related to the energy transition, catch limits, and seafood traceability

Oceana urges the Spanish presidency of the EU Council to prioritise ocean-related issues during the second half of 2023, considering the dire climate and biodiversity crises in EU waters and the need for sound policies to revert them. The EU is currently working on several important marine initiatives, including pieces of legislation that need to be adopted before the European Parliament elections in June 2024.

“Spain encompasses one fifth of all the marine area in the EU. Even with Spanish general elections taking place in July, the country needs to demonstrate that its commitment to ocean preservation goes beyond party politics. The EU is now in the process of creating several key pieces of legislation, and Oceana is calling on the Spanish presidency to put a blue seal on them”, said Vera Coelho, deputy vice president for Oceana in Europe.

Oceana urges the Spanish presidency to ensure that the ocean is put at the centre of political decisions during the second half of 2023, including by:

  1. Actively leading the negotiations on the Nature Restoration Law, so that it is adopted before the EU 2024 elections. This law is a unique opportunity to bring back life to marine ecosystems and fight the climate and biodiversity crises.
  2. Following scientific advice in the setting of 2024 total allowable catches for fish populations in the Baltic Sea and in the North-East Atlantic Ocean, and in defining effort limits for the Mediterranean, putting the focus on the recovery of the most overfished stocks.
  3. Inspiring ambition in the discussions with stakeholders to create a roadmap for the energy transition of the EU fishing fleet, including setting measures and deadlines so that it becomes low impact and climate neutral.
Other legislative initiatives are also expected during the Spanish presidency, such as a proposal from the European Commission to create a European Sustainable Food System framework to improve the transparency and public information available for seafood and to incentivise increased traceability from seafood imports and processed products.
Notes for the editor:
European biodiversity is declining at an alarming rate. The European Environment Agency estimates that 81% of protected habitats are in a poor or bad state. After many years of campaigning, fish populations are showing signs of recovery, but there is still much to be done. In the Atlantic, dozens of fish population are still severely overexploited, and overfishing continues to be rampant in the Mediterranean and Black Seas, where over 70% of assessed fish stocks are fished above sustainable levels. Damaging activities continue to destroy vulnerable habitats and to reduce the ocean’s resilience to other pressures such as ocean warming, acidification, and pollution. The lack of environmental sustainability jeopardises the social and economic sustainability of the activities that rely on marine resources. 

Learn more:

Nature Restoration Law

Policy briefing: Carbon-friendly & economically resilient EU fisheries