On 5th March, the European Policy Centre, together with the Mission of Norway to the European Union, hosted the Policy Dialogue Plastics and Oceans: How can Europe end further discharge into the oceans? Seas At Risk’s Marine Litter Policy Officer, Emma Priestland, was in attendance, to share the message that ocean plastics are not an impossible problem to solve, provided immediate action is taken. Several solutions are already available to make this happen.

Moves to close a loophole in enforcement of the cap on high-sulphur marine fuel, which comes into effect in January 2020, have been welcomed by the Clean Shipping Coalition (CSC), of which Seas At Risk is member. Ships will be banned at that time from burning any marine fuel with a sulphur content above 0.5%, but the ban does not prevent ships from carrying fuel exceeding the 0.5% limit. This opens up the possibility of massive avoidance by unscrupulous operators when operating out of sight on the high seas.

A recent debate at the European Parliament saw the European Commission and Azorean government representatives question the need for deep-sea mining. Both sides advocated a precautionary approach and stated that critical raw materials would be more effectively addressed through the circular economy.

On 16th January, as part of its 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, the European Parliament adopted a strong resolution on international ocean governance, including a very welcome commitment to move towards ending the use of heavy fuel oil by ships in the Arctic.

The European Commission recently released its proposal for the revision of the Port Reception Facilities Directive. This proposal is vital for the protection of the marine environment, as it aims to prevent the dumping of ships’ waste at sea. Here, Seas At Risk takes a closer look at the two major changes proposed to improve waste delivery in ports: harmonisation of fees, and expansion of the system to include fishing boats.

The European Parliament, led by rapporteur Carlos Iturgaiz, is currently analysing the reasons underlying the failure of the EU aquaculture sector to grow at a level consistent with recent global trends (‘Towards a sustainable and competitive European aquaculture sector: current status and future challenges’). At a Parliamentary hearing on January 11th, several stakeholders, including the Federation of European Aquaculture Producers, General Confederation of Agricultural Cooperatives-General Committee for Agricultural Cooperation in the European Union, BirdLife, and Seas At Risk, presented their views on the future development of the EU aquaculture sector.

The European Commission has announced its intention to significantly reduce the use of plastic bottles and other single-use plastic items on its premises. All eyes are now on the European Parliament and the European Council to step up and follow suit.  

Leading environmental organizations and the global shipping industry have joined in calling for an explicit prohibition on the carriage of non-compliant marine fuels when the global 0.5% sulphur cap takes effect in 2020.

Seas At Risk welcomes the European Parliament’s resolution on international ocean governance  adopted on 16th January, particularly its strong stance on deep-sea mining. In calling for an international moratorium, the European Parliament becomes a primary custodian of the deep sea, hopefully prompting the European Commission and Member States to follow suit.

The European Parliament plenary voted today on a proposal to merge and simplify a set of rules within current fisheries legislation. Despite being aimed at reducing the impacts of fisheries on the marine environment, the proposal adopted only serves to weaken existing protective legislation, without scientific justification.