Oceans | WWF
	© WWF

Saving our ocean

Europe’s seas include some of the most intensively used marine waters in the world and remain threatened by a range of factors including overexploitation of fish stocks, pollution, marine biodiversity loss and degraded habitats.
In recent years, many European policies have been adopted to manage the use of the seas and secure the protection of marine wildlife and habitats. However, many of these policies remain to be fully implemented and the European Union is unlikely to  achieve its objectives of good environmental status of European seas and sustainable use of fish stocks by 2020.

What is WWF doing?

WWF is working with the European Union institutions, Member States and the private sector to deliver healthy marine ecosystems, resilient fisheries and a sustainable Blue Economy.

The EPO draws on the WWF European network’s field experiences to call for environmentally robust and evidence-based policies for sustainable ocean governance. 

To ensure the sustainable use of our ocean and effectively protect our seas, marine ecosystems and biodiversity, we:
  • Take action across all levels of governance, including industry and society, to support circular economy principles like more sustainable products and reinforced waste management to keep litter out of nature;
  • Take action across all levels of governance, including the public and private sector, to promote sustainable fishing practices that guarantee the social, economic and environmental resilience of fish stocks and which lower impacts on the marine environment;
  • Advocate for better implementation and monitoring of European legislation to end illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU Regulation).
  • Advocate for ambitious control rules which strengthen and enforce fisheries legislation to make EU fishing practices more sustainable and transparent 
  • Build cooperation and promote the involvement of stakeholders and business in the management of fisheries to transform commercial practices which negatively impact the marine environment;
  • Promote the creation of an ecologically coherent network of Marine Protected Areas and their proper management;
  • Promote the ecosystem-based approach in marine spatial plans that are adopted by European Member States;
  • Influence investment decisions within the maritime sector to be founded on the most sustainable blue economy pathways possible. 

Policy timeline

Ocean 2019

  • May: Seafood Expo
  • June: High-level conference on MedFish4Ever initiatives
  • July: evaluation of the Baltic Sea fisheries management plan
  • September: EU Seminar ‘State of fish stocks’
  • October: Our Ocean Conference
  • December: European Maritime and Fisheries Fund adopted

Ocean 2020

  • June: Control Regulation adopted
  • December: EU target to achieve Good Environmental Status in all EU seas
  • December: EU target to have all fish stocks sustainably fished
  • December: EU target to have 10% of Europe's marine and coastal areas effectively protected

Our Ocean Team

Dr Samantha Burgess
Head, European Marine Policy

Janica Borg
Marine Protection and Spatial Planning Policy Coordinator

Dr Anne-Cécile Dragon
Fisheries Policy Officer

Ignacio Fresco Vanzini
Public Affairs Officer, Marine Policy
+32 485 46 47 09

Katrin Vilhelm Poulsen
Seafood Policy Officer

Antonia Leroy
Illegal Fishing Policy Officer
+32 485 69 20 85

Larissa Milo-Dale
Marine Communications Officer
+32 483 26 20 86


	© naturepl.com/David Fleetham/WWF
Joint NGO position paper on the effective transformation of the post-2020 EMFF, January 2019

WWF Report: Evaluating Europe's Course to Sustainable Fisheries by 2020, December 2018

Joint NGO position paper on the revision of the EU Fisheries Control System, October 2018

Policy Brief: A Vision for achieving sustainable fisheries in regional fisheries management organisations, July 2018

Joint NGO position paper on the revision of the EU Fisheries Control System, June 2018

Policy Brief: A Vision for achieving sustainable fisheries in regional fisheries management organisations, July 2018

WWF Response to the European Commission's Consultation “Reducing marine litter: actions on single use plastics and fishing gear", February 2018

Sustainable Blue Economy Finance Principles, March 2018

Position paper: Can a WTO agreement on fisheries subsidies save the ocean?, November 2017

Remote Electronic Monitoring: Why camera technology is a cost-effective and robust solution to improving UK fisheries management, October 2017

WWF Comments on FAO CDS Guidelines, March 2017

WWF preliminary comments on current negotiations to end harmful fisheries subsidies in the WTO, March 2017 

Report: Marine Protected Areas in the Baltic Sea - November 2016

Position paper: Succeeding in oceans governance, September 2016

Position paper: A vision for the healthy Mediterranean, September 2016

How to safeguard the seas with ecosystem-based management, February 2016

Position paper: Mediterranean swordfish –WWF recommendations to improve the state of the stock, 2016

Principles for a Sustainable Blue Economy, May 2015

Report: Securing a sustainable blue economy in the Baltic Sea, 2015

Report Summary: Blue growth in the Mediterranean Sea: The challenge of Good Environmental Status, 2015

Fish facts & figures

	© naturepl.com / Doc White / WWF
    Over a 1/3 of global assessed fish stocks are overexploited
    For some fish stocks, Europe’s fishing fleet is estimated to be 2 to 3 times the size needed to catch the available resources
    The EU is the 4th largest producer of fish and aquaculture products in the world

    The Mediterranean is the most overfished sea in the world, with 90% of assessed stocks overfished
    Over 60% of seafood consumed within the EU is caught abroad


  • Healthy marine ecosystems supporting abundant fish stocks which in turn provide sustainable livelihoods for fishing industries and fisheries dependent communities around Europe and the world.