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The European Union needs to step up action to protect our seas and oceans, EU Environment, Fisheries and Oceans Virginijus Sinkevičius has said, commenting the Commission’s report on the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD).  The report, which is further reinforced in the European Environment Agency’s “Marine Messages II” also published on June 25, reveals that, while the EU’s framework for marine environmental protection is one of the most comprehensive and ambitious worldwide, persistent challenges remain, such as excess nutrients, underwater noise, plastic litter, and other types of pollution as well as unsustainable fishing.

“We have made progress, for example in the field of sustainable fisheries, but we need additional efforts and stop the irresponsible pollution of our seas,” Sinkevičius said. “I note with regret that EU Member States will not achieve the Good Environmental Status they were legally required to achieve across all their marine waters by 2020 and that, for some marine regions, efforts required are substantial,” Sinkevičius said.

The Commission will launch a review of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, to see what has worked and what has not, and act upon the shortcomings identified, he said. “Protecting our seas and oceans is an integral part of the European Green Deal, and it is the precondition for our fishermen and fisherwomen to provide us with healthy and sustainable seafood also in the future and therefore deserves our continued attention across policy areas,” Sinkevičius said.

EEA Executive Director Hans Bruyninckx said Europe’s seas and marine ecosystems are suffering as a result of years of severe over-exploitation and neglect. “We may soon reach a point of no return, but, as our report confirms, we still have a chance to restore our marine ecosystems if we act decisively and coherently and strike a sustainable balance between the way we use of seas and our impact on the marine environment. In this context, the new EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2030 and other elements of the European Green Deal bring must guide urgent and coherent action for protection and restoration to be underway,” he said.