Succeeding in oceans governance
Transformation of ocean governance is fundamental to achieving ecosystem recovery, long-term sustainable management and a thriving blue economy. Tackling over-exploitation of ecosystem goods and services, unintended impacts of human activities, ocean acidification and weak legislative structures are essential to support long-term, responsible economic, social and environmental use of marine resources.
The EU has been a global leader, developing ambitious legislation to deliver good environmental status and sustainably managed fish stocks by 2020. The policies and practices adopted by the European Commission (EC), individual European member states, and the private sector have significant influence on the long-term fate of marine ecosystems, both within European Seas and around the world. Unfortunately, Europe is also home to some of the largest drivers impacting the health of the global oceans and the ocean economy. The international community has recently focused considerable diplomatic and political capital to reverse ocean degradation trends. However, there remains a significant disparity between the intension behind international commitments and the reality of global implementation.
The 2015 ‘State of European Seas’ report by the European Environment Agency concludes that the EU is not achieving sustainable use of its seas but has the policy framework, knowledge and expertise to do so. In addition to the critical environmental status assessment, the WWF ‘Reviving the Ocean Economy Report’ illustrates the economic case for ocean conservation with compelling evidence. The value of coastal, marine and oceanic ecosystems and environments is valued at US$2.5 trillion annually with the global ocean asset valued at 10 times more.
This paper highlights WWF’s recommendations to the European Commission to deliver truly integrated ocean governance, to restore ocean health and secure a prospering and sustainable blue economy. It details specific strategies and recommends new legislation to deliver the targets defined by SDG 14: Life below water