© 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 and cumulative pressure on marine ecosystems from increased human activities.
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 by 2020.

"To take effective climate and biodiversity action, the EU must uphold its commitments to sustainability, nature protection and viable fisheries to secure a healthy and 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, a balance between at-sea activities and nature, 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 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 
  • Promote the creation of an ecologically coherent network of Marine Protected Areas and their proper management;
  • Promote an ecosystem-based approach to the Maritime Spatial Plans that are adopted by European Member States;
  • Advocate for a sustainable deployment of offshore renewable energy which balances environmental protection and socio-economic needs;
  • 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

Louis Lambrechts
Ocean Policy Assistant

Helena Rodrigues
Ocean Policy Officer
+32 492 33 00 08

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

Policy timeline

Ocean 2022

  • 27 June - 1 July: UN Ocean Conference
  • 5-9 September: 35th Session of the FAO Committee on Fisheries (COFI) 
  • 12-14 September: 4th World Small-Scale Fisheries Congress (4WSFC)
  • 7-11 November: 45th Session of the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean - GFCM (GFCM)
  • 7-18 November: UNFCCC COP 27

Latest Ocean News
Latest report

© iStock

Socio-economic impacts of the EU Common Fisheries Policy

WWF research has found that 43% of EU fishers earned below the national minimum in 2018. For the 56% of EU fishers who work on small-scale vessels, as many as 70% earned less than the minimum wage.

Further, 19 EU vessels are implicated in illegal fishing practices outside of EU waters. Half of the infringements were by vessels engaging towed bottom-contacting fishing gear which consume more fuel per unit of catch than other gear types and are detrimental to marine ecosystems and carbon sequestration systems of the seabed. 

WWF’s assessment stresses the need for better understanding of the socio-economic dimension of fisheries policies in order to improve the sector. WWF calls for greater economic incentives to secure an inclusive and fair transition to low-impact fisheries aligned with the CFP and the EU’s environmental objectives, while securing the livelihoods of coastal communities for generations to come.

Policy briefs & Position papers
Joint policy brief: Splash out (the right way). 15 Recommendations for spending the European Maritime Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund (November 2021)
PDF 451 KB
Position paper: Nature protection and offshore renewable energy in the EU (May 2021)
PDF 1.45 MB
Guidance paper: Ecosystem-based maritime spatial planning in Europe and how to assess it (March 2021)
PDF 2.25 MB
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
Joint NGO policy brief: Advancing the Farm to Fork Strategy (September 2020)
PDF 1.30 MB
Joint NGO 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
Joint NGO Recommendations: 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
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