Home > Maritime Policy

EU Maritime Policy

Theme coordinator:
Albert Salman (EUCC, Leiden, NL)

The EUCC Marine Team aims to support the EU Integrated Maritime Policy by encouraging the involvement of stakeholders and research communities.

Marine crisis: affecting ecology, economy and research?

The last decades have seen a trend of global overfishing, unsustainable fishing practices and an increasing level of discards resulting into a stepwise collapse of the fish stocks and in the annual kill of a quarter million dolphins and an even larger number of seabirds. The fisheries crisis had severe implications for local fishing based economies. This, in combination with the marine ecological crisis and the energy crisis, exacerbated conflicts with respect to the exploitation of coastal and ocean space and resources. Regional and local authorities asked attention for economic development and employment in connection with leisure and commercial ports, marine industry and energy. Environment NGOs asked for a basically different fisheries policy, and for an improved utilisation of wind, wave and tidal energy, whilst others expressed concern about the impact of underwater noise on the ecosystem (e.g. dolphins). The emergence of energy parks made ship owners concerned about safe shipping routes. These are only a few examples from discussions in which scientists were pushed to provide more knowledge to support a plethora of demands, impacts and aspects, however, without substantially increasing budgets and research means. New applied research fields emerged, e.g. around integrated coastal zone management (ICZM), how to reduce by-catch of dolphins in fisheries (through ‘pingers’), how to improve fishing techniques, and how to evaluate the impacts of underwater noise of the new wind parks.

Emerging EU marine and maritime policies

After many years of debate, the European Union agreed on a set of ambitious environmental policy efforts: to implement the Habitats Directive at sea and to strive towards a Good Environmental Status (the main target of the MSFD. On the basis of a public consultation on the Maritime Policy Green Paper (2006) the Commission adopted a new communication in October 2007: the Blue Book, presenting a vision for an Integrated Maritime Policy for the European Union as well as a detailed Action Plan. In connection to this, the Commission started to develop several important initiatives:
a) maritime spatial planning, building on existing EU initiatives with a strong maritime spatial planning dimension, including the Recommendation on Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) and the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD), the environmental pillar of the Integrated Maritime Policy.
b) integrated maritime surveillance
c) marine data collection and knowledge: in April 2009 the Commission launched a roadmap for a European Marine Observation and Data Network (EMODNET).
d) a European Marine and Maritime Research Strategy (adopted in September 2008 by the Commission).

Initiatives from the research community

The above policy development encouraged the science community to focus on the huge challenge of providing the necessary knowledge base for the emerging policies. Many scientists argue that our understanding of marine ecosystems is fundamentally insufficient: defining indicators and targets for a Good Environmental Status is a gamble, without a thorough understanding of the functioning of marine ecosystems. The European Coastal Action Plan, endorsed by 180 outstanding coastal and marine experts at the Paris Conference (ENCORA, 2007), advocated the creation of a European network of coastal observatories as an essential precondition for developing such understanding. The ENCORA project had brought the coastal research community together in 2005-‘08. When discussing ENCORA’s follow-up of in the light of emerging European policies, the Coastal & Marine Union (EUCC) proposed to bring all research and stakeholders networks together in a joint platform. In connection to the Maritime Policy Blue Book, the European Commission had announced the creation of a “Maritime Stakeholders Platform”. At the Littoral 2008 conference in Venice, 28 networks committed themselves to the creation of the Venice Platform. One of them was CPMR, representing many coastal regional authorities in Europe. This platform is intended to promote a constructive dialogue and sharing of experience, knowledge and information between the research community, regional and local authorities, the environmental NGO community, maritime industry networks, and leisure user associations; and to enter into a dialogue with European institutions in support of the EU Maritime Policy.

Following the first gathering of marine scientists and the maritime industry at the EurOcean 2004 conference, a series of events led to the EurOcean 2007 conference and the adoption of the “Aberdeen Declaration” calling for a joint effort from European research networks to develop the European Research Area. The “Aberdeen plus” interest group, comprising a large number of European research networks - among them the ESF Marine Board, ICES and CIESM, aims at the establishment of a marine science platform in connection to the EU Maritime Policy and especially to the EU Strategy for Marine and Maritime Research.

Progress towards an all embracing stakeholders platform

The preparation of the Maritime Day Stakeholders Conference 2009 has proved to be a useful trigger for a concerted approach towards the constituencies of the Aberdeen and Venice initiatives. Both initiatives agreed to closely cooperate as complementary networks, both connected to the marine and maritime stakeholders community. Concrete cooperation will focus on a FP7 support action to maritime stakeholders and on the organization of stakeholder consultation workshops at the annual Maritime Day. The Venice Platform initiative will support the Aberdeen plus initiative in becoming the science and technology pillar of the European Maritime Stakeholder Platform. The Aberdeen plus initiative will support the Venice Platform in developing a coastal, marine and maritime stakeholder platform. At the European Maritime Day Stakeholders Conference in Rome, 18-20 May 2009, a specific workshop has been organised on the topic, resulting in a broad agreement on the need of an all embracing stakeholders platform and in the creation of a task force with representatives from industry, research, environmental NGOs, regional governments and user groups. This task force is chaired by prof. Johan Vande Lanotte, president of the Coastal & Marine Union (EUCC).

Links

Maritime Policy
Consultation on Maritime Policy
Integrated Maritime Policy documents
An Integrated Maritime Policy for the European Union - COM(2007) 574 final
Action Plan

European Strategy for Marine and Maritime Research
European reserach strategy charts course
European Strategy for Marine and Maritime Research - COM(2008)

EMODNET
Roadmap for a European Marine Observation and Data Network

Venice and Aberdeen+ platforms
Venice platform declaration
European Marine and Maritime Science Forum