Press comment: EU Ocean Action Plan is welcome but needs greater ambition
Feb 21, 2023

Press comment: EU Ocean Action Plan is welcome but needs greater ambition

By EJF Staff

Responding to today’s publication of the EU’s Ocean Action Plan, Steve Trent, CEO and Founder of the Environmental Justice Foundation, said:

“The biodiversity and climate crises are accelerating, and a thriving ocean is indispensable if we wish to end them. Today’s EU Ocean Action Plan is a welcome step forwards, but further ambition is needed. For example, bottom trawling is a highly destructive form of fishing, incompatible with the objectives of marine protected areas (MPAs). However, the Ocean Action Plan only proposes to “phase out mobile bottom fishing in all MPAs by 2030 at the latest”. A shorter deadline would benefit ocean ecosystems, the climate and sustainable economies simultaneously.

The EU is a leader in the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and overfishing. I welcome the European Commission’s commitment to the “swift adoption” of an “ambitious” new Control Regulation, and the call for Member States to use this to improve fisheries monitoring, such as through enhanced catch recording. I urge Member States to take note and reverse their proposals to backslide on the margin of tolerance - the extent to which captains can legally misreport their catch - including for already overfished species such as yellowfin tuna in the Indian Ocean. Failing to do so would threaten ecological collapse and put the EU’s international biodiversity commitments, such as those made at COP15, out of reach.”

“I commend the European Commission’s initiative to protect the ocean, and encourage further progress for our planet’s greatest life support system. This Ocean Action Plan should complement other EU action on the vitally important issue of global fisheries transparency, including through the Fisheries and Oceans Pact.”


Notes for editors

The Environmental Justice Foundation is an international non-governmental organisation working to protect the environment and defend human rights. EJF is a charity registered in England and Wales (1088128).

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