Ocean Action Hub

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Sustainable blue economy strategy to release €2.5bn in EIB investment

12 Nov 2019 - The European Investment Bank (EIB) has launched its Blue Sustainable Ocean Strategy, pledging €2.5bn for building a sustainable blue economy.

12 Nov 2019The European Investment Bank (EIB) has launched its Blue Sustainable Ocean Strategy, pledging €2.5bn for building a sustainable blue economy.

The EIB announced the launch of the Blue Sustainable Ocean Strategy at the Our Ocean conference on marine governance in Oslo, Norway, this week; committing to increase the investment it delivers as the EU Bank in sustainable blue economy projects by more than 100%. The strategy, which is projected to mobilise at least €5bn in outside investment in sustainable ocean initiatives, is aimed at improving the overall health of the world’s oceans and shoring up the resilience of coastal environments and ecosystems.

The Blue Sustainable Ocean Strategy, which follows the successful first year of the Clean Oceans Initiative in which the EIB is an active participant, is to be underpinned by the bank’s new Clean and Sustainable Ocean Programme. The EIB will make advice and technical assistance available to sustainable blue economy projects hoping to apply for funding; as well as working in tandem with both the public and private sectors to target investment in key sectors, including research and innovation, coastal protection initiatives; and green shipping.

CONTINUE READING: https://www.governmenteuropa.eu/sustainable-blue-economy/95202/

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Sustainable fishing: Stricter regulations to reach 2020 target improve stocks
14 Jan 2018 - EU success shows how to achieve 2020 sustainable fishing targets, including SDG 14.4 to reduce overfishing and illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and SDG 14.6, related to harmful subsidies.

14 Jan 2018 - EURONEWS - EU success shows how to achieve 2020 sustainable fishing targets, including SDG 14.4 to reduce overfishing and illegal, unreported and (IUU) fishing and SDG 14.6 related to harmful subsidies.embed

If you had a better seafood selection than usual this festive season it’s partly thanks to growing catches in Sweden and across Northern Europe. Small trawlers that used to harvest 20 tons of prawns and langoustines each year now catch twice that much, because fish and shellfish numbers are on the rise.

“Nowadays, we have a lot — humongous — of prawns,” says Swedish fisherman Johan Grahn. “And the fish stocks have improved as well.”

In the North Sea, the Baltic Sea and the Atlantic overfishing declined drastically over the last 10 years. Ten years ago only one in seven assessed stocks were fished sustainably the rest were overfished according to the EU’s Directorate-general for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries. This year seven out of ten stocks are fished sustainably.

So how did the European Union make this happen? In part, by tackling the problem of fishermen dumping the unwanted fish. Around a quarter of catches used to be thrown back in the sea and most of those fish simply died. Now fishermen are changing how they work and their equipment to avoid catching fish that are too small or species they don’t want.

“No-one with some sense in their head want to drop good food just over the rail — it’s just silly,” says Grahn. “So after a while they figured it out, how to manage this. And it starts with something called landing obligation.”

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: https://www.euronews.com/2019/01/11/sustainable-fishing-is-2020-target-as-stricter-regulations-improve-stocks

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Single-use plastics ban approved by European Parliament

24 Oct 2018 - The European Parliament has voted for a complete ban on a range of single-use plastics across the union in a bid to stop pollution of the oceans.

24 Oct 2018The European Parliament has voted for a complete ban on a range of single-use plastics across the union in a bid to stop pollution of the oceans.

MEPs backed a ban on plastic cutlery and plates, cotton buds, straws, drink-stirrers and balloon sticks.

The proposal also calls for a reduction in single-use plastic for food and drink containers like plastic cups.

One MEP said, if no action was taken, "by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans".

The European Commission proposed a ban in May, following a surge in public support attributed to documentaries such as David Attenborough's BBC Blue Planet series.

The measure still has to clear some procedural hurdles, but is expected to go through. The EU hopes it will go into effect across the bloc by 2021.

The UK will also have to incorporate the rules into national law if the ban becomes a fully-fledged directive before the end of a Brexit transition period.

After the Parliament vote was backed by 571-53, the MEP responsible for the bill, Frédérique Ries, said it was "a victory for our oceans, for the environment and for future generations."

Several countries are already considering proposals to target disposable plastic products - including the UK.

What's being banned?

The directive targets some of the most common ocean-polluting plastics.

The list of banned items such as cutlery and cotton buds was chosenbecause there are readily available alternatives, such as paper straws and cardboard containers.

Other items, "where no alternative exists" will still have to be reduced by 25% in each country by 2025. Examples given include burger boxes and sandwich wrappers.

MEPs also tacked on amendments to the plans for cigarette filters, a plastic pollutant that is common litter on beaches. Cigarette makers will have to reduce the plastic by 50% by 2025 and 80% by 2030.

Another ambitious target is to ensure 90% of all plastic drinks bottles are collected for recycling by 2025. Currently, bottles and their lids account for about 20% of all the sea plastic, the European Parliament report said.

Manufacturers will also have to take more responsibility for what happens to their plastic products and packaging.

How big is the problem?

The EU's research on the topic says about 150,000 tonnes of plastic are tossed into European waters every year.

That is only a small contributor to the global problem, with an estimated eight million tonnes of plastic entering the world's oceans annually. And once there, plastic can travel great distances on ocean currents.

Those plastics have a huge effect on marine life.

Fish and large aquatic mammals can be killed by the pollution. Whales can eat plastic bags, making it impossible for them to eat real food which can eventually lead to death.

When plastic debris breaks down from wear and tear, it does not decompose the way other products like wood do - but instead breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces, becoming "microplastic".

These tiny fragments often end up in fish and can then be passed on to humans.

Large volumes of plastic waste wash up on beaches, where they can be eaten by sea birds and other animals and kill them.

CONTINUE READING: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-45965605

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Baltic Sea oxygen levels at '1,500-year low due to human activity'
6 Jul 2018 - Nutrient run-off from agriculture and urban sewage are likely to be to blame, scientists say.

6 Jul 2018 - Nutrient run-off from agriculture and urban sewage are likely to be to blame, scientists say.

The coastal waters of the Baltic have been starved of oxygen to a level unseen in at least 1,500 years largely as a result of modern human activity, scientists say. Nutrient run-off from agriculture and urban sewage are thought to be to blame.

“Dead zones” – areas of sea, typically near the bottom, with a dearth of oxygen – are caused by a rise in nutrients in the water that boosts the growth of algae. When these organisms die and sink to the seafloor, bacteria set to work decomposing them, using up oxygen in the process.

The resulting lack of oxygen not only curtails habitats for creatures that live on the seafloor, but also affects fish stocks and can lead to blooms of toxic cyanobacteria.

But it is not a problem confined to the Baltic. Earlier this year a study revealed that ocean dead zones have quadrupled in size since the 1950s, and are found the world over in coastal regions of high population, from Europe to North America and China.

Researchers behind the latest study say that while nations are taking action to help waters rebound, individuals can help.

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Striving To Reduce Ocean Pollution, EU Proposes Ban Of Everyday Plastic Items

29 May 2018 - Straws, plates, cutlery and cotton buds are among the plastic products prohibited under the proposed new rules.

29 May 2018 - Alarmed by the sheer quantity of plastic clogging our oceans, the European Union is mulling ambitious new rules that would reduce or outrightly prohibit many everyday single-use plastic items.

The proposed measures, unveiled Monday by the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, target the top 10 plastic products most often found on Europe’s beaches.

Some of these items — like plastic straws, cotton buds, plates and disposable cutlery — will be banned completely under the new rules, which require the approval of the European Parliament and all 28 EU member states. For other products, like plastic bags and food containers, producers will be required to help cover the costs of waste management and clean-up, and member states will be obligated to raise awareness about the negative impacts of using such items.

EU countries will also be required to collect 90 percent of single-use plastic drink bottles by 2025. Improved waste management of abandoned and lost fishing gear, which accounts for almost 30 percent of Europe’s beach litter, is also mandated in the proposal.

“Plastic can be fantastic, but we need to use it more responsibly,” Jyrki Katainen, a European Commission vice president, said in a press release announcing the draft rules. “Single-use plastics are not a smart economic or environmental choice, and today’s proposals will help business and consumers to move towards sustainable alternatives. This is an opportunity for Europe to lead the way, creating products that the world will demand for decades to come, and extracting more economic value from our precious and limited resources.”

According to CNN Money, it could take three or four years for the rules to be enforced. But if they are, the European Commission said the measures are expected have a profound financial and environmental impact.

Consumers would save about $7.6 billion per year, 30,000 jobs would be created and about 3.7 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions would be avoided by 2030, the commission said.

It added that though the rules are expected to cost businesses over $3.5 billion annually, companies also stand to benefit from the new measures.

“Having one set of rules for the whole EU market will create a springboard for European companies to develop economies of scale and be more competitive in the booming global marketplace for sustainable products,” the commission said in a press release. “By setting up re-use systems (such as deposit refund schemes), companies can ensure a stable supply of high-quality material. In other cases, the incentive to look for more sustainable solutions can give companies the technological lead over global competitors.” 

This will also mean more sustainable choices for consumers, said Frans Timmermans, the commission’s vice president.

“What this means in practice is that you won’t see single-use plastic cotton buds on your supermarket shelves, but ones made with more environmental friendly materials instead,” Timmermans told The New York Times. “The same will go for straws, drink stirrers, sticks for balloons, cutlery and plates.”

“You can still organize a picnic, drink a cocktail and clean your ears, just like before,” he said. “And you get the added bonus that when you do so, you can have a clear conscience about the environmental impact of your actions.”

Environmental groups have lauded the EU’s proposal as a significant step in the right direction, though some have suggested the rules don’t go far enough

The plastics industry is expected to push back against the proposed regulations. Plastics Europe, a trade group representing European manufacturers, criticized the proposal, saying in a press release that “plastic product bans are not the solution” and “alternative products may not be more sustainable.” 

CONTINUE READING: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/eu-single-use-plastic-ban_us_5b0cec...

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Tropical MSP summer school

Marine Spatial Planning summer school in Brest, France.

3 to 7 September 2018 in Brest, France.

The PADDLE project - funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and coordinated by the Research Institute for Development -  organizes a thematic school from 3 to 7 September 2018 in Brest, France.

This one-week training and capacity-building interdisciplinary session on tropical marine spatial planning (MSP) will bring together PhD students and researchers from Europe and countries bordering the tropical Atlantic.

It aims at providing early researchers a comprehensive toolbox to address some of the challenges the world's largest ecosystem faces, through Marine Spatial Planning.

General lectures will be given by international experts in the field of MSP and disciplines offering tools for informed decision-making (e.g. GIS, accoustic, population modelling). Lessons learnt will be immediately tested in action, through the MSP Challenge.

The summer school will be held in French and English (simultaneous translation) and will be opened to about 30 PhD students, with no registration fee.

Applications are now closed.

FOR MORE DETAILS: https://www-iuem.univ-brest.fr/paddle/project/news/tropical-msp-summer-s...

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Sustainability pays for EU fishing fleet

13 Oct 2017 - The most sustainable fisheries are now also becoming the more profitable, according to a new report on the performance of the EU’s fishing fleet.

13 Oct 2017 - The most sustainable fisheries are now also becoming the more profitable, according to a new report on the performance of the EU’s fishing fleet.

The EU’s latest Annual Economic Report suggests that economic performance stagnates where fleets depend on stocks which are still overfished or overexploited, while more and more fleets that exploit stocks sustainably see clear improvements in their profitability and salaries.

The report, which was published last week, shows that the overall economic performance of the EU fishing fleet improved again in 2015, registering record-high net profits of €798 million, while estimates for 2016 and 2017 point towards further increases in profitability.

In 2015, the EU fleet's contribution to the economy through wages and gross profit, amounted to €3.9 billion. This represents a 16% increase compared to 2013. Average salaries in the EU fleet have also increased while average fuel consumption has decreased.

Fuel use efficiency has improved, with fuel costs amounting to 15% of the total revenue in 2015, compared to 24% in 2008. This is largely because fleets tend to operate more efficiently.

Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for environment, maritime affairs and fisheries, said: "It is encouraging to see that the positive trend of the last years has resulted in higher salaries for fishermen, bigger profits for the fishing sector and more value added for the EU's fishing and coastal communities. This clearly shows that our joint commitment towards more sustainable fishing pays off. But more efforts are needed to allow also small scale coastal fleets, in particular in the Mediterranean and Black Sea, to fully benefit from this positive trend. Continued progress towards Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) in all sea basins will therefore be a precondition for achieving economic viability."

The 2017 Annual Economic Report on the EU Fishing Fleet is based on data provided by national authorities and the result of combined work by economic experts from the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee of Fisheries and the Commission.

CONTINUE READING: https://thefishsite.com/articles/sustainability-pays-for-eu-fishing-fleet

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EU launches ocean research partnership with Brazil and South Africa

13 July 2017 - New initiative covers a wide swathe of research interests, including climate, marine litter, ocean observation, food security, fisheries management, and ocean technology.

13 July 2017 - The European Commission is teaming up with South Africa and Brazil in ‘the South Atlantic research and innovation flagship’, a partnership which will pool funding for climate science, marine litter, ocean observation, food security, fisheries management and ocean technology, and the development of joint data centres where scientists can share research outcomes.

The agreement was signed by EU Research Commissioner Carlos Moedas, Brazil’s minister for science, Gilberto Kassab, and minister of science and technology of South Africa Naledi Pandor at a conference in Lisbon.

“[The agreement] moves our cooperation with Brazil and South Africa up a gear, enabling us to better coordinate our research agendas and to make best use of our research and innovation funding,” Moedas said.

The collaboration stems from Brussels’ growing interest in Atlantic Ocean-based research, with the Commission planning to invest over €60 million from the EU Horizon 2020 research programme over the next two years. This funding will go towards studying ecosystems, seafloor mapping and new aquaculture systems.

“By 2020 we expect to have more than 500 research teams working from Antarctica to the Arctic funded by Horizon 2020,” Moedas said.

The deal also follows on from a Commission push to attract more foreign researchers to Horizon 2020 after the number of international grant winners fell to a lowly 2.2 per cent.

There has been “a substantial drop” from the previous EU research programme, said Maria Cristina Russo, director for international cooperation at the European Commission’s research directorate, speaking at a Science|Business conference last month. In Framework Programme 7, almost 5 per cent of grants were awarded to researchers in countries outside the EU.

The Commission will try to regain this level of international participation with up to 15 new flagship projects worth €1 billion during the final three years of Horizon 2020.

South Africa is the second biggest foreign participant in Horizon 2020; Brazil is the fifth.

CONTINUE READING: http://sciencebusiness.net/news/80391/EU-launches-ocean-research-partner...

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Our Ocean 2017

The conference, on the theme, “An Ocean for Life”, will be hosted by the EU in Malta.

Since 2014, Our Ocean conferences, have invited world leaders to look forward and respond, delivering high-level commitments and transforming the challenges ahead into an opportunity for cooperation, innovation and entrepreneurship. The 2017 edition, “An Ocean for Life”, will be hosted by the European Union in Malta, at the heart of the Mediterranean.