EU Environment Ministers call for urgent action to better protect our seas | JPI OCEANS

EU Environment Ministers call for urgent action to better protect our seas


EU Environment Ministers call for urgent action to better protect our seas

The call to action was part of the HOPE Conference took place on the 3rd and 4th of March 2014 and saw productive discussion about the future of Europe’s Marine Environment.

The HOPE Conference drew together over 400 attendees varying from representatives of member states, academia, NGOs to several EU Environment ministers and, the host and Commissioner for the Environment, Janez Potocnik. Following an optimistic video introduction from President Barroso, Potocnik set the tone for proceedings by calling for increased efforts to tackle the problems associated with the increasing pressures on our seas and oceans.

The report from the European Environment Agency, which marks the end of the first stage in the implementation of the Marine Strategic Framework Directive (MSFD), provided the primary stimulus for Conference’s discussion. The report provided an analysis of member state reports on their marine waters’ status. This analysis produced some important conclusions, including a warning that more work is required than previously calculated to reach the 2020 EU goal for healthy and productive seas.

JPI Oceans’ was represented at the event with Management Board member Rudy Herman giving a presentation regarding the capabilities in filling marine knowledge gaps. JPI Oceans’ presence also provided an opportunity to raise awareness of the key goals of improving co-operation and co-ordination between European states which is itself a key conclusion of the EC report.

Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik has been quoted as saying that the report has clarified that “Europe's seas and oceans are not in good shape. But we depend on these seas, and we need to find a balance. That means finding ways to reap their economic potential without increasing the pressure on an already fragile environment, creating growth and jobs that are secure in the long term." A sentiment that was echoed throughout the two day conference and will be at the heart of the continuing MSFD implementation as stated in the resulting Declaration of HOPE.

The declaration outlined the recognised challenges to healthy European oceans and reiterated the developments made during the conference, thus allowing for a referencing point in the run up to the 2020 deadline and emphasising the urgency of the issues we are facing.

Conference footage can be found here, reports here and here and the declaration of HOPE here.

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