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Oceana Calls For Urgent Ocean Management

EU - Oceana is urging immediate action to be taken to prevent irreversible damage to the marine environment. The call comes as the European Commission is getting closer to the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) reform.

The international marine conservation organisation estimates that since the beginning of the 21st century, 70 million tonnes of fish have been discarded dead, 110,000 hectares of seagrass meadows that were home to thousands of organisms have been destroyed and 99 per cent of the marine species in danger of extinction still lack conservation plans.

Technological advances that have been deployed to exhaust ocean resources maximize the short term profits of fishing industry, without taking into account the sustainability of the livelihood of millions of people nor the preservation of ocean ecosystems.

Meanwhile, most of the deep seas remain unexplored, meaning that in many areas, destructive fishing gear is authorised without even knowing what biodiversity is being destroyed. Last year for example, Oceana discovered a deep-sea coral reef in European waters and found fishing lines entangled in it.

“Less than one per cent of global ocean surface is effectively protected nowadays,” explained Ricardo Aguilar, Research Director for Oceana Europe.

“Moreover, there is not a single fish stock that is responsibly managed in the world. In a number of cases, like for some Mediterranean sharks, stocks have been reduced by up to 99 per cent of their original population in the 20th century. World resources are being plundered for the benefit of just a few and decision makers do not seem to be willing to stop it.”

While oceans make up more than two-thirds of our planet, little has been done to protect them, especially when compared to conservation efforts on land.

The situation is not better in the European Union. However, this year, the CFP is undergoing a reform process, providing another opportunity to right what has failed in the past.

“The oceans are in trouble, the science is clear, and the solutions exist. What is missing is the political motivation for change. World Oceans Day shouldn’t be a day for celebration in Europe, but rather a cry for help and a call for action,” said Xavier Pastor, Executive Director for Oceana in Europe.

While the task at hand seems daunting, the reality is that the situation can be turned around. It is important for people to understand the dire state of our oceans, so as to grasp why it is so important that action be taken now.

“If national and EU decision-makers are willing to put politics aside and prioritise our oceans, and the millions of Europeans that depend on them not only for food, but also for their incomes and pleasure, we can reverse the tide,” added Mr Pastor.

“The recovery of our seas depends on strong policies and legislation that end harmful subsidies and the wasteful practice of discards, create Marine Protected Areas that are large enough, well managed, and in the right places, end destructive fishing practices, and follow scientific advice.”

the Fish Site Editor

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