“Europe’s seas and oceans are not in good shape,” says Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik. “The message is clear.”
Potočnik’s statement comes as the European Commission publishes a report on progress that European Union (EU) member states have made towards a promise given six years ago to make sure that the continent’s seas were in good environmental shape by 2020. This report — which the Commission styles as the first comprehensive overview of the seas surrounding the EU — shows that meeting this promise will require major effort.
The report notes that the levels of various pollutants — such as nutrients causing algal blooms and subsequent oxygen depletion in the Baltic and Black seas — are above acceptable limits; that fish stocks are over-exploited; and that the seas are full of litter. Gaps in data are also a huge problem, and very few member states have put forward a strategy to close these gaps, the Commission complains.
Another report on the same subject — released today by the European Environment Agency — notes that between 2001 and 2006, conservation status was inadequate or bad for 50% of the marine habitats assessed in the EU, with only 3% of marine species deemed to be in a “favourable” state and 70% being of unknown status (see graphic below).
The Commission’s report concludes that EU seas are facing increasing pressure from human activity, and “the EU is still very far from enjoying healthy oceans and seas”.