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Oceans and fisheries
News announcement15 March 2019Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries2 min read

International ocean governance: looking back at two years of firm action

The Commission on 15 March 2019 published a report outlining the progress made on the ocean governance agenda since the adoption of a Joint Communication on International Ocean Governance, together with the High Representative of the European Union, two years ago.

The conclusion of the report is encouraging. The 50 actions for safe, secure, clean and sustainably managed oceans in Europe and around the world are successfully being implemented. And the work will continue.

Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Karmenu Vella added:

Oceans make up 70% of the planet and absorb 25% of the global C02 emissions. I am happy that with our agenda for the future of our oceans, EU’s role in oceans’ management has strengthened and action has intensified. But the challenges that the oceans face are as big as the oceans themselves - climate change, pollution, biodiversity loss, overfishing. We need to continue our work.

EU taking up global leadership on oceans

The EU has consistently used its economic and political weight to make sure that existing rules are properly implemented and to fill any regulatory gaps. For example

  • EUR 590 million have so far been engaged under EU development policy to promote better ocean governance with non-EU countries
  • Thanks to the EU’s IUU policy, 14 countries have successfully reformed their control and management systems to fight illegal fishing in their territory
  • The EU has played a major role in achieving an international consensus on the protection of the high seas in the Arctic

On the environmental side, the EU is meanwhile manifesting itself as a global frontrunner, thanks to

  • Ambitious new legislation to counter marine pollution, in particular from single use plastics and lost fishing gear
  • Promotion of offshore wind and ocean energy, as an important contribution to a carbon-neutral EU economy by 2050
  • Designation of more than 10% of its marine and coastal areas as marine protected areas, two years before the 2020 international deadline

The EU invests in, and promotes global efforts to improve ocean research, data and science. This is needed to improve policy-making, drive innovation and facilitate a sustainable 'blue' economy. The Commission has started publishing the Copernicus Ocean State Report annually. Over EUR 500 million was committed on marine research under the Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.

High Level Conference on Oceans

On 19 March the Commission is organising together with the European Parliament a high-level conference on the future of oceans, where Commissioner Vella will have the opening keynote speech. Register here or follow on social media: @EU_MARE and #OceanEU

The official Joint report "Improving International Ocean Governance – Two years of progress" can be found on the website accompanied by a Staff Working Document. Below you can read the version for the larger public.

Leaflet: Improving international ocean governance


Publication date
15 March 2019
Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries