Protecting Our Ocean: Europe's challenges to meet the 2020 deadlines
The report shows European seas remain in a poor state and significantly lack appropriate biodiversity protection, with 19 of 23 marine EU Member States falling behind on developing management plans for their Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). MPAs are tools designed to protect specific species or habitats in marine ecosystems, but in order to provide effective protection for biodiversity, they must be properly managed. The report finds that only 1.8% of the EU marine area is covered by MPAs with management plans, despite 12.4% being designated for protection. Eleven EU Member States have not reported any management plans for their MPAs and eight have management plans for less than 10% of their marine area.
The assessment further reveals that the overall design of marine protection in Europe’s regional seas fails to deliver a network of MPAs which function together for improved protection. MPA networks of the Baltic Sea, Northeast Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea do not sufficiently represent the local habitats, nor are the MPAs close enough to each other for species to successfully move between them.
WWF implores the EU and its Member States to urgently develop robust management plans and implement them as concrete activities for biodiversity protection within all existing MPAs. In line with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) recommendations, WWF is calling for at least 30% effective protection of the world’s oceans by 2030, an objective the EU must also achieve to safeguard the unique biodiversity of its seas.