Last night European states have been joined by the Marshall Islands, Chile, Mexico and other nations* in a call for urgent action to tackle shipping's contribution to the climate crisis. Signatories to the "Tony De Brum Declaration" have restated their support for the objectives of the Paris Agreement and called for action on shipping consistent with those objectives.

Early this morning European Fisheries Ministers have made progress towards the goal to end overfishing in the Atlantic and North Sea in 2018, though they still have set many quotas above the fishing limits that scientists had advised to ensure sustainable fisheries.  These decisions are at odds with the legal obligation of EU Member States to end overfishing by 2020 at the latest.

2018 is fast approaching. Seas At Risk and its members will be on call with their collective expertise and concrete policy solutions to solve the major challenges our seas are currently facing. Together with our members, we send you season’s greeting and wishes for a bright blue 2018.

In its new report ‘Tackling overfishing and marine litter’, Seas At Risk undertakes an analysis of fisheries and marine litter measures adopted by Member States under the Marine Directive. While noting some progress, it concludes that much more effort is needed to achieve healthy fish stocks and reduce harm from marine litter by 2020. The report also provides recommendations on the measures needed.

On 11 & 12 December, the Fisheries Council will meet to agree fishing quotas for 2018. Ahead of this meeting, Seas At Risk, together with Pew, Oceana, ClientEarth and the Fisheries Secretariat, has called on the Ministers for Fisheries of the EU Member States to follow current scientific advice and take steps to end overfishing.

Today Members of the Environment Committee of the European Parliament called for a ban on the use of heavy fuel oil in the Arctic. Heavy fuel oil is the cheapest marine fuel and accounts for three quarters of all fuel carried in the fuel tanks of ships sailing in the Arctic. Heavy fuel oil is also one of the world’s dirtiest fuels, a waste product of the refining process. It is almost impossible to clean up in the event of a spill, and produces high levels of black carbon when burnt. Black carbon emissions accelerate the melting of Artic ice and contribute to climate change. Given the severe risks that heavy fuel oil poses to polar environments, the international shipping community has already banned its use in the Antarctic. It is now time to extend that ban to the Arctic.

Seas At Risk joined 19 other NGOs in a call to fisheries ministers to ban fisheries for adult eel in all EU waters, including fresh water. Due to anthropogenic impacts there has been a dramatic reduction in the European eel in all the EU in the last 30 years, and less than 5% of the stock is left.  Conservation efforts to protect this species have failed up to now. Since 2008 scientists have been advising to close the fisheries, but this has so far been ignored by the Ministers. The state of the European eel got to such critical level that immediate action is necessary to achieve the recovery of the species. A ban on the fishing on adult eels would allow them to spawn as a first step to recovery.

The past month Seas At Risk has been presenting the results of our new study ‘Single-use plastics and the marine environment’ at high level events.

Time is ticking. Chances of achieving biologically diverse, clean and healthy seas by 2020 - as required  by the Marine Directive - are decreasing every day if urgent action is not taken. Measures proposed by Member States to achieve this noble commitment are too weak and  lacking in  ambition to  achieve it.  Meanwhile  our seas face increasing pressure.  Action is necessary, now!  

The European Parliament Fisheries Committee today voted on a proposal that will revise legislation on the protection of fisheries resources and marine ecosystems. The proposal merges more than 30 existing regulations and directives, all aimed at minimising the impacts of fishing on ecosystems. However, the proposal seriously weakens or deletes several existing measures.