European Maritime Day

The European Community chose, in 2008, to designate May 20 each year as a day to celebrate the importance of seas and oceans to the European people.  By that action, the combined nations of Europe recognized that Europe is as much a maritime continent as a land continent.

Consider these facts about the relationship of Europe to its coasts and marine environments.  23 of the EU’s 28 nations have a coastline.  Europe has 70,000 km of coastline in all, bordering the Mediterranean, North, Baltic, Norwegian and Black Seas.  That coastline is seven times as long at the U.S. coastline and 4 times as long as Russia’s.  Almost half of Europe’s population lives in maritime regions, and 40% of the GDP comes from there.  Europe’s maritime region is the largest of any nation in the world.  In fact, Europe controls more marine territory than terrestrial territory!

However, that marine territory, although still highly productive, is not in good shape environmentally.  About two-thirds of marine habitats and one-quarter of species conditions were deemed “unfavorable” by the EU in its latest report on ocean conditions.  Invasive species are on the rise, with 320 new non-native species observed since 2000.  Half of commercial fish stocks in European waters are fully or over-exploited, and fish catches have been declining over the past decade.  Marine pollution continues to grow, with increasing worries about noise from shipping, renewable energy development and oil drilling.  Plastic litter is also being recognized as an emerging issue, with most litter originating from land-based activities.

As a consequence, the EU has enacted an Integrated Marine Policy, or IMP, to govern uses and conservation of marine areas.  The first objective of the IMP is “maximizing the sustainable use of the oceans and seas….”  The objective includes efforts to reduce and adapt to climate change and reduce all forms of pollution.  For fisheries, the objective includes eliminating discards of unwanted catches; outlawing harmful fishing practices; reducing illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing; and developing aquaculture that does not threaten wild fish stocks or create localized pollution.

The EU has also increased the pace of creating marine protected areas.  Nearly 8000 protected sites exist, covering almost 6% of the total marine area.  More than half of that area is in the Baltic and Mediterranean Seas.

Europe’s marine areas range broadly across several seas (drawing by European Environmental Agency)

European Maritime Day is one effort to raise the profile of marine conservation and to focus leaders annually on marine issues.  Each year, a new theme is covered during a major conference held at rotating sites around Europe.  The theme for the 2021 virtual meeting is “A green recovery for the blue economy.”

References:

European Commission.  European Maritime Day.  Available at:  https://ec.europa.eu/maritimeaffairs/maritimeday/en/about-emd.  Accessed May 18, 2018.

European Commission.  Maritime Affairs—Facts and figures.  Available at:  https://ec.europa.eu/maritimeaffairs/documentation/facts_and_figures_en.  Accessed May 18, 2018.

European Environment Agency.  2015.  Europe’s seas:  productive, but not healthy or clean.  Available at:  https://www.eea.europa.eu/media/newsreleases/europe2019s-seas-productive-but-not.  Accessed May 18, 2018.

European Environment Agency.  2015.  Marine protected areas in Europe’s seas.  Available at:  https://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/marine-protected-areas-in-europes.  Accessed May 18, 2018.

European Parliament.  The Integrated Maritime Policy.  Available at:  http://www.europarl.europa.eu/atyourservice/en/displayFtu.html?ftuId=FTU_3.3.8.html.  Accessed May 18, 2018.

European Union.  2008.  Joint Tripartite Declaration Establishing a “European Maritime Day.”  Available at:  https://ec.europa.eu/maritimeaffairs/maritimeday/sites/mare-emd/files/20080520_signed_declaration_en.pdf.  Accessed May 18, 2018.

This Month in Conservation

February 1
Afobaka Dam and Operation Gwamba (1964)
February 2
Groundhog Day
February 3
Spencer Fullerton Baird, First U.S. Fish Commissioner, Born (1823)
February 3
George Adamson, African Lion Rehabilitator, Born (1906)
February 4
Congress Overrides President Reagan’s Veto of Clean Water Act (1987)
February 5
National Wildlife Federation Created (1936)
February 6
Colin Murdoch, Inventor of the Tranquilizer Gun, Born (1929)
February 7
Karl August Mobius, Ecology Pioneer, Born (1825)
February 8
President Johnson Addresses Congress about Conservation (1965)
February 8
Lisa Perez Jackson, Environmental Leader, Born (1982)
February 9
U.S. Fish Commission Created (1871)
February 10
Frances Moore Lappe, author of Diet for a Small Planet, born (1944)
February 11
International Day of Women and Girls in Science
February 12
Judge Boldt Affirms Native American Fishing Rights (1974)
February 13
Thomas Malthus Born (1766)
February 14
Nature’s Faithful Lovers
February 15
Complete Human Genome Published (2001)
February 16
Kyoto Protocol, Controlling Greenhouse-Gas Emissions, Begins (2005)
February 16
Alvaro Ugalde, Father of Costa Rica’s National Parks, Born (1946)
February 17
Sombath Somphone, Laotian Environmentalist, Born (1952)
February 17
R. A. Fischer, Statistician, Born (1890)
February 18
World Pangolin Day
February 18
Julia Butterfly Hill, Tree-Sitter, Born (1974)
February 19
Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial Established (1962)
February 20
Ansel Adams, Nature Photographer, Born (1902)
February 21
Carolina Parakeet Goes Extinct (1918)
February 22
Nile Day
February 23
Italy’s Largest Inland Oil Spill (2010)
February 24
Joseph Banks, British Botanist, Born (1743)
February 25
First Federal Timber Act Passed (1799)
February 26
Four National Parks Established (1917-1929)
February 27
International Polar Bear Day
February 28
Watson and Crick Discover The Double Helix (1953)
February 29
Nature’s Famous Leapers
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