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Oceans and fisheries
News announcement10 December 2021Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries1 min read

EU pushes for stronger ocean governance at UN General Assembly

Boat in Mauritius © Unclesam / Adobe Stock
Boat in Mauritius © Unclesam / Adobe Stock

On 9 December, the UN General Assembly debated and adopted two resolutions on “Oceans and Law of the Sea” and on “Sustainable Fisheries”, aiming to ensure that oceans and seas can be the basis for sustainable development and provide for the needs of current and future generations.

The EU considers the two annual resolutions important in strengthening ocean governance. The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), to which the EU is a party, constitutes a fundamental pillar of ocean governance. It establishes the overarching legal framework within which all ocean and sea borne activities must be carried out. The EU calls upon all members of the international community to abide by the fundamental principles and rules of the law of the sea and refrain from any actions undermining regional stability and security.

The EU highlights the need to employ the best available science when implementing recovery strategies from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, so as to ensure that the targets of the 2030 Agenda can be achieved, notably as the SDG14 targets due in 2020 have not been met. The latest scientific reports demonstrate that the health of the ocean is not improving and the impacts of climate change and biodiversity loss are increasing, with potential significant socio-economic impacts. Consequently, the EU looks forward to the opportunities for further progress offered by the 2022 UN Oceans Conference as well as the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, and encourages great participation in both.

The EU remains committed to achieving sustainable fisheries, in line with the objectives of its common fisheries policy. Harmful subsidies which contribute to overcapacity, overfishing and illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing are one of the main obstacles to achieving sustainability. The EU is committed to concluding the long-standing WTO negotiations in this regard as soon as possible.

The EU is looking forward to the full resumption of UN meetings in the area of ocean and fisheries. In particular, the EU is committed to ensuring that ongoing negotiations on a agreement for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ) can be finalised as soon as possible, ideally in 2022.


Publication date
10 December 2021
Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries