EU commits to foster healthier, cleaner, and more secure seas

Published by Dan Connell on

October 10th, 2017

The EU Commission has announced €550m in funding for initiatives to tackle global oceans challenges at the EU-hosted Our Ocean Conference 2017  in Malta last week.

Thirty-six commitments were made, which the Commission said will intensify EU efforts towards reducing marine pollution, enlarging protected areas, reinforcing the security of the oceans, fostering blue economy initiatives, and supporting sustainable fisheries.

The full list of 36 commitments can be found here, but specific highlights include:

Marine pollution

€2m has been ear-marked in 2017 to support the implementation of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) by the Member States, with a further €2.3m to support regional and inter-regional cooperation.

€2.85m will be invested in marine pollution prevention and preparedness projects and €2.5m for marine pollution exercises, to support and complement cross-border cooperation between EU countries and with selected countries in the EU’s vicinity.

Blue economy

More than €250m was committed to fund marine and maritime research in 2017. This includes €40m to support low-emission and advanced waterborne transport and over €30m for marine energy.

€14.5m will be put aside to promote a sustainable blue economy in the EU, €8m of which will provide start-up grants for high-potential projects in emerging blue economy sectors across the EU.

A further €2m will go towards providing support for innovative technologies to monitor and/or combat marine litter in waters around the European Union.

Maritime/Marine Spatial Planning

Nearly €6m was allocated to support projects in EU countries to set up cross-border cooperation on maritime spatial planning.

The EU will provide a grant of €1.4m to IOC-UNESCO to develop international guidelines for Maritime/Marine Spatial Planning (MSP).

€8.5m will also be invested for the preservation of marine and coastal biodiversity in the Caribbean Sea Basin. This action targets natural areas that are threatened by misuse, overexploitation, pollution, and climate change effects.


During 2017 and 2018, €23m will be invested in the marine environment monitoring service of Copernicus, the EU’s satellite monitoring programme focused on climate change, fisheries, and marine protection.

It was announced that Copernicus will, for the first time, create ‘Ocean Monitoring Indicators’. These indicators, which include biochemistry, are important for measuring ocean health and will be published in the next Ocean State Report in 2018.

€4m will support EU agencies and EU Member States in monitoring oil pollution and large-scale commercial fisheries in the Northeast Atlantic, the Mediterranean, the Baltic, the North Sea, the Black Sea, the Pacific Ocean and around the Canary Islands.

Marine protection

The Commission announced support for the establishment of a cross-sectoral and cross-boundary multi-stakeholder platform for regional ocean governance by 2020.

€1.5m will be invested to analyse ecosystems and economic activity on the mid-Atlantic Ridge and the Rio Grande Rise, to support the definition of a coherent set of Areas of Particular Environmental Interest.

The Commission also intends to support the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) in establishing a Fishing Restricted Area (FRA) of at least 2,700 km² to protect demersal stocks in the habitat.

Sustainable fisheries

A minimum of €1m will be invested in 2017 for the Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) global programme to support the implementation of the landmark Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (IUU).

The EU announced that it will contribute €225,000 to the FAO for the development of a global record that is to register fishing vessels, refrigerated transport vessels and supply vessels worldwide.

New rules to manage the external fishing fleet is expected to enter into force by the end of 2017, which the EU says will allow for better monitoring and control of its fleet and enhance efforts to combat IUU fishing.

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Dan Connell

Daniel is a journalist and contributor to Green News, whose focus is on marine conservation and environmental issues. He holds a BSc (Hons) in Marine Science from NUI Galway.