EU action has not led to the recovery of significant marine ecosystems and habitats, according to a new special report published today by the European Court of Auditors (ECA). Its framework to protect the marine environment is not deep enough to restore seas to good environmental condition, while EU funds rarely support the conservation of marine species and habitats. The auditors found that marine protected areas (MPAs) provide limited real protection, while overfishing persists, particularly in the Mediterranean.
The EU is committed to protecting the marine environment through its environmental and fisheries policies. Its main environmental policies are set out in the Marine Strategy Framework Directive and the Birds and Habitats Directives, and include establishing a network of MPAs. The EU’s common fisheries policy aims to ensure that fishing activities are environmentally sustainable and to minimise their negative impacts on the marine ecosystem, as well as providing funding. However, the EU has not succeeded in halting marine biodiversity loss in Europe’s seas.
“Due to their economic, social and environmental importance, seas are a real treasure. However, EU action has so far been unable to restore European seas to good environmental status, nor fishing to sustainable levels”, said João Figueiredo, the Member of the European Court of Auditors responsible for the report. “Our audit clearly raises the red flag over the EU’s sea protection.”
Press Release: EU protection of marine environment is shallow