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

January 1
NEPA Enacted (1970)
January 2
Bob Marshall Born (1901)
January 3
Canaveral National Seashore Created (1975)
January 4
The Real James Bond Born (1900)
January 5
National Bird Day
January 6
Wild Kingdom First Airs (1963)
January 7
Gerald Durrell Born (1925)
January 8
Alfred Russel Wallace Born (1823)
January 9
Muir Woods National Monument Created (1908)
January 10
National Houseplant Appreciation Day
January 11
Aldo Leopold Born (1887)
January 12
National Trust of England Established (1895)
January 13
MaVynee Betsch, the Beach Lady, Born (1935)
January 14
Martin Holdgate Born (1931)
January 15
British Museum Opened (1795)
January 16
Dian Fossey Born (1932)
January 17
Benjamin Franklin, America’s First Environmentalist, Born (1706)
January 18
White Sands National Monument Created (1933)
January 19
Yul Choi, Korean Environmentalist, Born (1949)
January 19
Acadia National Park Established (1929)
January 20
Penguin Appreciation Day
January 21
The Wilderness Society Founded (1935)
January 22
Iraq Sabotages Kuwaiti Oil Fields (1991)
January 23
Sweden Bans CFCs in Aerosols (1978)
January 24
Baden-Powell Publishes “Scouting for Boys” (1908)
January 25
Badlands National Park Established (1939)
January 26
Benjamin Franklin Disses the Bald Eagle (1784)
January 27
National Geographic Society Incorporated (1888)
January 28
Bermuda Petrel, Thought Extinct for 300 Years, Re-discovered (1951)
January 29
Edward Abbey, author of “Desert Solitaire,” Born (1927)
January 30
England Claims Antarctica (1820)
January 31
Stewart Udall, Secretary of Interior, Born (1920)
January February March April May June July August September October November December