The situation of the european seas must be improved urgently with decisive measures in view of comprehensive problems such as overfishing, climate change and pollution.
This is the conclusion of the copenhagen-based EU environmental agency EEA in a report on the situation of europe’s seas. Otherwise, time is running out to reverse decades of failures and excessive exploitation.
The eea still has the opportunity to restore important key elements for the resilience of marine ecosystems, the eea explained. But urgent and decisive action is needed to bring human use of the oceans into better harmony with the ecosystems.
So far, the EU states have not succeeded in decoupling the use of the oceans from the degradation of marine ecosystems, the agency criticized. "The way we use the natural capital of our oceans seems to be unsustainable."The eu could restore the resilience of these systems step by step, which could ultimately make them more resilient in the fight against the climate crisis and other threats. However, the EEA clearly concludes: "there is an urgent need to act now."
Europe’s seas are generally in a bad way at the moment, which is also bad news for people because it affects quality of life, the economy and livelihoods. The poor sea conditions are therefore due, on the one hand, to the historically evolved and ongoing exploitation of the seas by humans. On the other hand, climate change is exacerbating the consequences of other problems. The combined effects of these changes were currently on a path that could irreversibly damage marine ecosystems, the EEA report says.
In some places, however, there are signs of marine recovery, often thanks to decades of effort. The EU target of creating good environmental conditions in all european seas by the end of the year will probably not be achieved. However, within the existing political framework of the EU, this is possible by 2030 – with real political decisions and increasing cooperation between the parties involved.
"Our oceans and marine ecosystems are suffering due to years of severe overexploitation and neglect," EEA executive director hans bruyninckx explained. "We could soon reach a point of no return, but as our report confirms, we still have a chance to restore our marine ecosystems.Ultimately, it is a matter of striking a sustainable balance between the use of the oceans and the human impact on the marine environment," the mayor said.
The EU’s new biodiversity strategy and other elements of the EU commission’s "green deal" are cause for hope, says bruyninckx. At the same time, his office warned that the marine economy is growing, as is competition for resources such as fish, fossil fuels and raw materials. This will put further pressure on the already over-exploited marine ecosystems.