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 failed to achieve its objectives of good environmental status of European seas and sustainable use of fish stocks by 2020.

"As the climate crisis unfolds, the EU must uphold commitments to sustainability, environmental protection and viable fisheries to secure a healthy relationship with nature and a resilient ocean."

Dr Antonia Leroy
Head of Ocean Policy
+32 485 69 20 85

© 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 Antonia Leroy
Head of Ocean Policy
+32 485 69 20 85

Odran Corcoran
Marine Policy Officer
+32 488 12 73 87

Alexandre Cornet
Ocean Policy Officer

Agnieszka Korbel
Seafood Policy Officer

Louis Lambrechts
Ocean Policy Assistant

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

Policy timeline

Ocean 2021

  • 1 January: start of the UN Decade of Ocean Science
  • 8 April-6 May: European Commission: Roadmap Feedback - Protecting the marine environment – review of EU rules
  • 15 April-13 May: European Commission: Roadmap Feedback - Action plan to conserve fisheries resources and protect marine ecosystems
  • 20 April: EU International Ocean Governance Forum 2021:Setting the Course for a Sustainable Blue Planet
  • TBC 17-21 May: European Parliament Plenary vote on the Biodiversity Strategy
  • 20-21 May: European Maritime Day
  • 5 June: International day for the fight against IUU Fishing
  • TBC 7-10 June: European Parliament Plenary vote on the impact on the fishing sector of offshore wind farms and other renewable energy system
  • 8 June: World Oceans Day
  • 7-11 June: IOTC Commission Meeting
  • TBC June: Trilogue negotiations on EU fisheries Control Regulation
  • TBC June: UN Ocean Treaty (BBNJ) negotiations 
  • TBC summer: Committee adoption of draft European Parliament Fisheries Committee INI Report: Offshore Renewable Energy (ITRE)
  • 5-9 July: SIOFA 8th Meeting of the Parties 
  • 11 October 2021: United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity COP15
  • 26-28 October: EU Green Week
  • 8-12 November: 44th Session of the GFCM
  • 1-12 November: United Nations Climate Change Conference COP26
  • TBC November: ICCAT Annual Meeting

Latest Ocean News
Latest report

© Jürgen Freund / WWF

Improving international ocean governance for life below water

Five years on from the adoption of the UN 2030 Agenda, WWF sounds the alarm to European decision makers and the global signatories of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) over failed progress on SDG14, the Goal for conservation and sustainable use of our ocean. This report shows that three of the four SDG14 targets due in 2020 will not have been achieved, with the fourth target only partly achieved

Following adoption of the European Green Deal, as the world’s largest seafood market and with a marine area covering over six million square kilometres across four distinct sea regions, WWF calls on the EU to lead by example and stand by its commitments to all life above and below water. 

Policy briefs & Position papers
Seafood traceability: exemptions risk fuelling illegal fishingSeafood traceability: exemptions risk fuelling illegal fishing (January 2021)
PDF 10.77 MB
Joint Position Paper: Making SFPA evaluations more efficient (September 2020)
PDF 160 KB
IUU Watch policy brief: Advancing the Farm to Fork Strategy (September 2020)
PDF 1.30 MB
IUU Watch policy brief: Advancing the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 (September 2020)
PDF 1.37 MB
Turning the Tide on EU Seas with a Green Recovery (June 2020)
PDF 2.04 MB
10 priorities for the future of Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreements (May 2020)
PDF 2.18 MB
Position paper: Achieving ecosystem-based marine spatial plans (February 2020)
PDF 616 KB
Joint NGO position paper: Will the EU doom our ocean and fishers? (January 2020)
PDF 1.73 MB
Policy brief - International level: Mitigating Climate Change Impacts on Food Security from the Ocean (December 2019)
PDF 2.14 MB
Joint NGO position paper: Revision of the EU Fisheries Control System (November 2019)
PDF 902 KB
Position paper: Ending harmful fisheries subsidies - it is vital for the WTO to take action now (October 2019)
PDF 880 KB
Policy Brief: Empowering women in marine communities to mitigate the impacts of climate change (September 2019)
PDF 16.48 MB
Joint NGO reaction: Joint Declaration of the Spanish, French and Italian governments on the post 2020 European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (June 2019)
PDF 685 KB
Policy brief - EU-level: Mitigating Climate Change Impacts on Food Security from the Ocean (June 2019)
PDF 8.42 MB
Joint NGO position paper: The effective transformation of the post-2020 EMFF (January 2019)
PDF 682 KB
Policy brief: A vision for achieving sustainable fisheries in regional fisheries management organisations (July 2018)
PDF 247 KB
Position paper: Can a WTO agreement on fisheries subsidies save the ocean? (November 2017)
PDF 710 KB
Position paper: Succeeding in oceans governance (September 2016)
PDF 464 KB
Position paper: A vision for the healthy Mediterranean (September 2016)
PDF 330 KB