Vast projections of ocean life lit up the European Commission building Berlaymont in Brussels. Greenpeace called on Commission president Ursula von der Leyen and environment commissioner Virginijus Sinkevicius to deliver on their, so far empty, promises to protect the oceans.
The European Union and other self-proclaimed ‘ocean champions’ like the UK and US failed to deliver a Global Ocean Treaty at the last round of UN negotiations in August 2022. The EU’s own marine environment is in a dismal state, with 99% of European waters unprotected from “high impact activities”, like bottom trawling or mining.
Greenpeace said: “The European Union must deliver the ocean protection it has repeatedly promised. Along with the UK and the US, it’s largely responsible for the failure to reach a deal at the last round of Global Ocean Treaty negotiations.
“The EU loves to present itself as an ocean champion, despite its own waters being in a dismal state and the industrial fishing fleets of EU countries devastating sea life and jeopardising coastal communities in West Africa and elsewhere. It’s time for the European Commission to step up and secure the full protection of at least 30% of our oceans from exploitation.”
In December 2022, governments in principle agreed to protect at least 30% of the world’s oceans (and land) by 2030. This landmark agreement will only be deliverable if a strong Global Ocean Treaty is signed at the UN negotiations taking place in New York from 20 February to 3 March 2023.
Commissioner Sinkevicius has previously said that “our future depends” on the oceans.
Greenpeace calls on the EU and other governments of the High Ambition Coalition to return to the negotiating table with a credible offer that can get a Global Ocean Treaty over the line. That means putting up sufficient finance, committing to sharing fairly future profits from ocean resources with the Global South, and ensuring the final treaty is robust enough to deliver fully protected areas across the high seas.
The oceans sustain all life on earth. They help regulate the planet’s climate, provide food and livelihoods to billions of people and are home to much of this planet’s plant and animal life.