Oceans | WWF
	© WWF

Saving our ocean

Europe’s seas include some of the most intensively used seas in the world, and remain threatened by a range of factors, which include overexploitation of our fish stocks, pollution, marine biodiversity loss, degraded habitats and declining coastal communities.
In recent years, many European policies have been designed to manage the use of the seas and the protection of marine wildlife and habitats. Many of these policies, however, remain to be fully implemented, and the European Union probably won’t achieve its goals to have good environmental status of European seas and sustainable use our fish stocks by 2020.

What is WWF doing?

WWF is working with the European institutions, Member States and the private sector to ensure environmental coherence in marine spatial plans, to create ecologically coherent networks of marine protected areas, and ensure the sustainable use of our fish stocks and a future for our fishing communities. To ensure a sustainable use of our seas, oceans and marine environment, we are advocating for:
  • Where possible, encouraging the EU to ban single use plastics, and promoting action across all levels of governance, including industry and society, to design more sustainable packaging and motivate positive changes in consumer behaviour.
  • promoting sustainable fishing practices that guarantee the sustainable use of our fish stocks and have lower impact on the marine environment;
  • 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
  • increasing cooperation and involvement of stakeholders and business in the management of fisheries to transform commercial practices which impact the marine environment;
  • establishing an ecological coherent network of multiannual management plans for the European regional seas;
  • promoting environmental coherence in marine spatial plans adopted by European Member States as well as influencing investment decisions and development policy within the maritime sector along the most sustainable blue economy pathways possible. 

Policy timeline

Our Ocean Team

Samantha Burgess
Head, European Marine Policy

Janica Borg
Marine Protection and Spatial Planning Policy Coordinator

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

EU fish facts & figures

	© naturepl.com / Doc White / WWF
    2/3 of Europe’s assessed fish stocks are overexploited
    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 North Sea yields only 1/5th of the cod, plaice and sole it did 25 years ago
    In the Mediterranean, over 90% of assessed stocks are overexploited
    60% of fish 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.