World Ocean Day: Poor ocean policies put iconic marine wildlife at risk

Press Release Date: June 8, 2023

Location: Madrid


Natividad Sánchez | email: | tel.: +34 687 598 529

Oceana urges the EU to raise the ambition to rebuild marine abundance and increase ocean resilience to the climate crisis

On World Ocean Day, Oceana calls on decision-makers to create and enforce laws to rebuild European seas and increase their resilience to the climate crisis. Most of the problems that are devastating the ocean can be fixed by political will, such as the overexploitation of many fish populations and the destruction of marine habitats due to human activities. These pressures are unbalancing marine ecosystems and leading to the extinction of species that were once common in Europe.

“It is outrageous that many of Europe’s iconic marine species are extremely hard to see at sea. Thousands of animals, plants, and algae are vanishing because of lack of political will to protect and restore marine habitats, and not putting an end to overfishing. The science is clear on what is needed, and policymakers are accountable for hesitating to solve this disaster”, said Ricardo Aguilar, director of Expeditions for Oceana in Europe.

Dozens of marine species are critically endangered in Europe because of outdated or insufficient marine policies. Sharks and rays are the group of species at higher risk, including hammerhead sharks, angel sharks, sawfish, and common rays. Others, such as eel and sturgeon, are also critically endangered, but it is legal to market them. Noble pen shells and bamboo corals suffer from ocean disturbance, and the damage is so vast that right whales are almost extinct in European waters.

“EU policy makers need to understand that it can take centuries to repair the harm caused when they fail to address destructive and illegal activities at sea. It is high time to stop putting the interests of private business at the same level than what the ecosystem can bear. Economic sustainability is impossible if it is not underpinned by environmental sustainability”, said Vera Coelho, deputy vice-president of Oceana in Europe. 

The EU is currently working on several pieces of legislation that can alleviate marine biodiversity loss, such as the Nature Restoration Law, the Framework for Sustainable Food Systems, and the proper implementation of the Common Fisheries Policy. Efforts to restore and rebuild marine ecosystems are, however, suffering intense resistance from conservative decision-makers.