Oceans | WWF
© Matthieu Lapinski Ailerons


All life on Earth depends on 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.

"We need EU leadership that defends our ocean by refusing to move sustainability goalposts, and that ensures we have marine sustainability, environmental protection and a viable fishing sector."

Dr Samantha Burgess
Head, European Marine Policy

© Misjel Decleer

What WWF is 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.


Dr Samantha Burgess
Head of Marine Policy

Katrin Vilhelm Poulsen
Seafood Policy Officer, Acting Marine Policy Manager

Dr Anne-Cécile Dragon
Marine & Fisheries Policy Officer

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

Janica Borg
Marine Protection and
Spatial Planning Policy Coordinator

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

Alexandre Cornet
Ocean Policy Assistant

Policy timeline

Ocean 2020

  • January: EU target to have all fish stocks fished at Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY)
  • February: European Commission Communication on EU Biodiversity Strategy 2021-2030
  • February: European Maritime and Fisheries Fund adopted
  • March: World Ocean Summit - Tokyo, Japan
  • March - April: United Nations BBNJ IGC-4 , New York, USA
  • April: European Parliament initiative report on offshore wind farms
  • April: Brussels Seafood Expo
  • May: Member States Expert Group on MSP
  • May: Member States Steering Committee on MSFD
  • May: European Maritime Days - Ireland, Cork
  • June: Control Regulation vote in European Parliament
  • June: UN Ocean Conference - Lisbon, Portugal
  • June: IUCN World Conservation Congress - Marseille, France
  • July: FAO COFI meeting - Rome, Italy
  • October: Convention on Biological Diversity COP15 - Kunming, China
  • October: Our Ocean Conference - Palau
  • November: United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) - Glasgow, Scotland
  • December: EU target to have 10% of Europe's marine and coastal areas effectively protected
Ocean 2021
  • 31 March: deadline for national marine spatial plans (MSP)

Latest Ocean News
Latest report

© ARCO / naturepl.com

Protecting Our Ocean: Europe's challenges to meet the 2020 deadlines

WWF & Sky Ocean Rescue's assessment of the EU's progress to effectivley protect at least 10% of its marine and coastal areas by 2020 shows that European seas remain in a poor state and significantly lack appropriate biodiversity protection. Only 1.8% of the EU marine area is covered by Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) with management plans, despite 12.4% being designated for protection, with 19 of 23 marine EU Member States falling behind on developing management plans for their MPAs.