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On April 14th, Oceana, together with representatives of the European Commission, Members of the European Parliament, and other stakeholders, participated in a roundtable discussion on the Blue Economy. The meeting revealed the potential provided by the blue economy as well as the future threats it may bring to marine environments. Marine pollution (esp. from the use of nitrogen fertilizers in agriculture), protection of the Mediterranean Seas, marine protected areas and nature conservation are key challenges for European seas and oceans and for Europe, as a whole.

With the backdrop of an economic crisis, growth and jobs creation has been put high on the European agenda. Yet financial goals cannot be achieved without healthy and productive oceans that support sustainable maritime economies. Industries such as tourism, for example, can only be sustained once we guarantee a prosperous marine environment for it to operate, with unique marine wildlife and clean water. As a result this protection enables the development of further maritime activities and, in turn, the growth of connected hospitality, restaurants and leisure industries.

The role of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) is to protect and restore marine environments across Europe. However, what we can observe so far is that an insufficient implementation of the MSFD by Member States seriously undermines the goal of achieving “Good Environmental Status” of the EU’s marine waters. In practice, it means that maritime industries lack integration and socio-economic factors have dominated over environmental aspects.

It is therefore vital that political decisions on maritime policies must be driven towards reaching the goals identified by the MSFD, paving the way to restoring our oceans’ abundance and health.

Hopefully, this recent discussion on the blue economy will help raise further societal debate on a subject which is of high importance to us all.

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