Oceana welcomes Karmenu Vella, the new Commissioner in charge of delivering healthy oceans by 2020

European Parliament has voted today to confirm the new European Commission headed by President Jean-Claude Juncker. The new team of Commissioners will begin their five-year term on 1st of November subject to Council approval later this week.

Press Release Date: October 22, 2014

Location: Madrid


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

Oceana welcomes Karmenu Vella, holder of the new super portfolio of Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, and encourages strong leadership when he leads EUs efforts to rebuild sustainable fisheries, protect the marine environment and guarantee that sustainability is central to the “Blue Growth” Strategy.

During his mandate Mr. Vella will face the most important challenge for European seas: restoring them to a healthy and productive status by 2020. Oceana hopes that combining environment and fisheries will bring a fresh momentum to European policy, to successfully live up to this commitment and provide a clear focus on sustainability. Oceana is confident that by adding sustainability to the portfolio of First Vice President, Mr. Timmermans will guarantee the integration of environmental policies into all relevant portfolios of the new Commission.

“Healthy oceans are indispensable for Europeans because they provide us with food, jobs, and vital ecosystem services such as climate regulation. They are also part of our cultural identity and natural heritage; our legacy to the future”, said Lasse Gustavsson, Executive Director of Oceana in Europe. “We encourage Mr. Vella, to follow the path initiated by his predecessors Damanaki and Poto?nik to maintain the health of our seas as a top priority. This is the only way to ensure the livelihoods of coastal communities and to preserve and sustainably use our natural resources now and in the future”.

For the past five years the European Union has been able to turn the tide and has committed to restore European fish stocks, ban discards, stop haggling over yearly fish quotas and introduce long term fisheries management plans. Harmful fisheries subsidies have been curbed and the fight against illegal fishing (IUU) has taken off on a worldwide scale. Similarly the importance of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, that aims to ensure Good Environmental Status of Europe’s seas by 2020, has been recognized and its proper implementation is seen as fundamental towards mitigating the detrimental impact of all human activities on our oceans, for instance through the designation of new marine protected areas.

During his confirmation hearing in the European Parliament, Mr. Vella committed himself to continue the outgoing Commissioner Maria Damanaki’s fight against IUU, to implement the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), to let science and not politics decide annual fishing quotas, as well as to consider deep-sea mining only after thorough scientific analysis. The effective implementation of EU environmental legislation will be a test for the new Commissioner. Without adequate enforcement of the laws, sustainable use of marine resources cannot become a reality. Mr. Vella’s public statements to prioritize this and not tolerate any infringements are a good beginning to his new mandate.