Oceana urges EU Spanish presidency to champion protection of the oceans

The upcoming Spanish presidency of the EU is an excellent opportunity to promote a sustainable Common Fisheries Policy, increase the protection of the European oceans and develop a firm commitment to renewable marine energies

Press Release Date: April 19, 2010

Location: Madrid


Marta Madina | email: mmadina@oceana.org | tel.: Marta Madina

Oceana, the international marine conservation organisation, sent various political authorities a document titled “Oceana Recommendations for the EU Spanish Presidency”, which highlights the main aspects of ocean protection and conservation. According to this report, the EU must urgently refocus the protection policies for marine areas in order to comply with the objectives of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity. Currently, the EU is far from reaching these objectives. In addition, comments from NGOs and other social institutions concerning the Common Fisheries Policy reform will be included in the first months of the upcoming year. Also, the CITES Meeting of the Parties to be held in March will constitute an opportunity to demonstrate that the EU is an international leader in the protection of the marine environment and species.

Oceana demands that the Common Fisheries Policy be based on the precautionary principle and on management measures that take into account the entire ecosystem. For this, Oceana urges that TACs and fishing quotas be based on scientific recommendations. The international marine conservation organisation also demands the reinforcement of control measures for fishing activities and landings.

“The measures implemented within the framework of the CFP reform will decide the future of fisheries resources. The scientific foundation and strict application of the fisheries regulations must constitute the reigning principles of this reform,” points out Ricardo Aguilar, Director of Research at Oceana Europe. The European Presidency must concentrate on the reduction of discards and by-catch that hinder the health of populations of endangered species, as well as the firm application of the new European regulation on IUU fishing and the international agreement concerning this issue promoted by the FAO and signed by the EU.

Oceana insists that protection measures must be established for a variety of marine species. The proposal to add various species to CITES includes the bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus), eight species of sharks, such as the hammerhead (S. mokarran), the spurdog (Squalus acanthias) or the porbeagle (Lamna nasus), and corals from the Corallidae spp. genus including red coral (Corallium rubrum).

Xavier Pastor, Executive Director of Oceana Europe states: “The EU presidency should protect these species and control the causes of their decline: fishing pressure and the destruction of habitats.” The conventions on protection such as the Habitats Directive, the main European instrument to protect species and their ecosystems, hardly include any marine species. In fact, this directive does not include any shark species, despite the fact that the IUCN includes them in its Red List.

The Spanish Presidency of the EU is obligated to promote the protection of marine areas among Member States, according to the commitments acquired in the Convention on Biodiversity. According to this treaty, 10% of the marine environment must be protected by 2012. With this objective in mind, Oceana points out that scientific knowledge of the marine environment must be increased and all the tools available to protect ecosystems must be used.

The productivity of the oceans, the mitigation of the climate change and the control of the loss of biodiversity are directly related to the health of the marine environment. This is why our governments must be held responsible for protecting marine areas and promoting sustainable management, because we need to preserve life on Earth, affirms Ricardo Aguilar, Director of Research at Oceana Europe.

Oceana is also concerned about the climate change and the increase in the sea level that puts coastal populations at risk, the increasing temperature of the oceans, and marine acidification that endangers sensitive ecosystems like corals and species with exoskeletons, such as crustaceans or bivalves.

Oceana Recommendations for the EU Spanish Presidency