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the marine environment, but also economically,

because more fish means higher profits for the

fishing fleet. This will be boosted with the

reformed Common Fisheries Policy.

“Since problems like pollution or eutrophication

know no national boundary, we have designed

innovative tools that go beyond borders or

sectors. We have a unique piece of legislation

that requires countries across Europe to plan

the use of maritime space in harmony – again,

smart on both accounts, because it gives

operators certainty on what can be done, and

it enables us to predict and manage the

cumulative impact of maritime activities.

“With the Marine Strategy Framework Directive,

we have a framework legislation that looks at

all aspects of the marine environment to

achieve good environmental status in all EU

waters by 2020, to be implemented by EU

member states,” detailed Vella.

“We keep adding new areas to our Natura

2000 network … where habitats and human

activities coexist in harmony. One particularly

noxious effect of our civilisation is the six million

tonnes of plastic that end up in our seas and

oceans every year …marine litter is one of the

most striking effects of a resource-inefficient

economy. Not only are these materials polluting

our beaches and damaging our environment,

they are also squandered instead of being

pumped back into our economy.

“The EU has good waste legislation and has

also adopted rules to curb the use of plastic

bags, but more is needed. By the end of the

year, I will table an ambitious proposal that

promotes an holistic approach and that brings

us towards a more circular economy, where

all that plastic waste is just avoided. In the

meantime, I fully support initiatives like

‘fishing for litter’, where fishermen collect the

debris they find at sea and then items are

recycled into something useful, like clothing

and other everyday objects,” the

commissioner commented.

S

etting the scene for Green Week 2015 was Karmenu Vella,

European Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and

Fisheries, who drew attention to the important role of the blue

economy. Attending the three-day conference in Brussels in June, Portal

heard Vella detail the immense benefits of the water world, as well as

how action was needed to safeguard such crucial ecosystems in order

to benefit from the full advantages.

“The value of the blue economy in the EU is close to €550bn already. In

the future, with a growing world population that emerges from poverty,

this role is only bound to grow. The opportunities are there: from

traditional sectors like tourism or fishing, to emerging ones like seabed

mining or ocean energy; seas and oceans could be the trump card this

economy needs right now. Yet we must be careful and not let the stress

on resources become too intense, or let the race for control of resources

get the better of us.

“We want to benefit from the Nature in our seas, but we do not want to

jeopardise its future. We have to watch every step we make and have

all-round protection, keeping in mind that there will be no productive

ocean economy without healthy marine ecosystems.”

Pollution problem

The commissioner then detailed the action the Union was taking to

ensure sustainability and address the multiple forms of pollution.

“Ten years ago there were only three stocks fished sustainably in the

North West Atlantic, the Baltic and the North Seas; today, there are 36.

This is a smart move environmentally, because it eases the pressure on

I S S U E S E V E N

H O R I Z O N 2 0 2 0 P R O J E C T S : P O R TA L

www.horizon2020projects.com

224

S O C I E TA L C H A L L E N G E S : M A R I N E & M A R I T I M E

Master of the waves

After attending Green Week 2015,

Portal

carries the thoughts of European

Environment Commissioner

Karmenu Vella,

who sets out how protecting the

blue economy will lead to multiple economic benefits

The EU is making

multiple efforts to

safeguard the

environment of the

blue economy,

said Vella

© European Union, 2015