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Oceans and fisheries
News announcement17 September 2021Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries

Together to protect marine life

#EUBeachCleanup campaign - from a drop in the ocean to a wave of change


Every year, millions of tons of litter end up in the ocean with a direct and deadly effect on wildlife from seabirds to whales, fish to invertebrates.  Marine pollution starts on land and is one of the main drivers of the depletion of marine biodiversity.

This is why since 2017 the EU has organised the annual #EUBeachCleanup campaign. Officially launched on 18 August, the 2021 campaign will peak on 18 September, World Coastal Clean Up Day. Since June, clean-up actions have been organised in both coastal and landlocked countries around the world, and will continue until the end of October.

High Representative/Vice-President, Josep Borrell, said:

Our actions impact our oceans. It’s our choice: either we continue polluting our ocean with marine litter, or we take action and clean our seas. #EUBeachCleanup is a great individual and collective action of volunteers around the world to keep beaches clean and protect marine life. It’s needed, it’s urgent, everyone can contribute to restoring our planet.

Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevičius, said:

Restoring biodiversity, protecting the ocean and empowering citizens are all high on the EU’s agenda. The true power of #EUBeachCleanup is that it brings all these together and gains worldwide attention. It’s about walking the talk and turning the European Green Deal into global blue action. Join us. Together, we can make a difference.

#EUBeachCleanup is a global awareness-raising campaign set to boost ocean activism from the grassroots, through concrete actions for the protection of the oceans. Under the headline “Together to protect marine life”, in line with the 15th Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP15) in October, this year’s edition is raising the stakes with powerful social media presence and innovative online and off-line activities, designed to spur long-term behavioural change in particular.


Organised since 2017, #EUBeachCleanup campaign makes a strong call to action every year, building momentum for the adoption of ambitious measure to protect the ocean at international level

In 2021, the EU is joining forces with ActNow, the United Nation’s campaign for individual action on climate change and sustainability. Earlier this year, #EUBeachCleanup was recognised as a Sustainable Development Goals good practice.

80% of marine litter globally is plastics (IUCN 2018). At legislative level, the European Union is at the forefront of the battle. Within its own territory, the EU has adopted legislation that will curb single use plastics (SUP). Around 84% of beach litter in the EU is made of plastics and around 50% are SUP items. Thanks to the Single-Use Plastics Directive, a number of the single-use plastic items most commonly found on the beach, can no longer be placed on the EU market as of July 2021.

More information

#EUBeachCleanup 2021 - European External Action Service (

EU rules on single-use plastics


Publication date
17 September 2021
Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries