Europe's Seas Under Threat

Posted by Michelle Howard
Thursday, February 20, 2014
Image © Joachim S Müller

Many of Europe’s marine species, habitats and ecosystems have been under threat for decades. As maritime economic activities are predicted to increase in coming years, a new briefing from the European Environment Agency (EEA) argues that the cumulative impact of human activity should be better managed to avoid irreversible damage to ecosystems.

Many European industries have growing cumulative impacts on the sea, including transport, fishing, offshore energy and tourism. ‘Marine messages’ highlights the vulnerable nature of Europe’s marine ecosystems, which may be irreversibly damaged if they continue to be exploited beyond sustainable limits.  European countries need better information to help them understand the nature of these limits, the briefing says.

The publication is being launched to support the HOPE marine conference on March 3-4, 2014.

Hans Bruyninckx, EEA Executive Director said, “The rich life in Europe’s seas is an incredible asset. But we must ensure that this asset is used in a sustainable way, without surpassing the limits of what the ecosystems can provide. The current way we use the sea risks irreversibly degrading many of these ecosystems.”

Approximately two fifths of the EU’s population –206 million people – live in a coastal area, and 23 of 28 Member States have a coastline. According to analysis from the European Commission, also published today, Member States must make urgent efforts and improve cooperation for the marine environment to reach good status by 2020, a target under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD).

Europe’s marine ecosystems threatened by multiple pressures
Marine ecosystems are in a poor state of health in many areas, the EEA briefing says.  There are more than 36 000 known animal and plant species in the European seas. Species surveys have found that ‘good environmental status’ can be applied to less than a fifth of species and a similar proportion of habitats. 

Different seas face different problems. Eutrophication is leading to oxygen-free ‘dead zones’ in the Baltic and Black Seas, while trawling has been most destructive of the seabed in the North Sea. The Mediterranean is under pressure from a range of factors, many of them related to fishing and tourism.

In the last 25 years, sea surface temperatures have increased approximately 10 times faster than in other similar periods during the previous century or beyond. These climatic changes are pushing many organisms northwards – for example some types of plankton appear to have moved 1,100km.

Looking ahead
However, it is not a single issue but the cumulative effect of different pressures which is most important, the briefing notes. And many of these pressures are connected. For example, higher temperatures also increase oxygen depletion, affecting marine life, while increasing CO2 levels in the atmosphere are acidifying the oceans, making it difficult for some animals to form shells. Together these changes may be disrupting whole ecosystems.

Nonetheless, there are also some encouraging signs. For instance, the available data shows some fish stocks climbing back to safe biological limits, and nutrient loads have been reduced in the Baltic and North East Atlantic. Europe is also making progress in designating marine protected area networks, which currently cover 6% of European seas.

Maritime Reporter February 2015 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

People & Company News

Petrobras Downgrade Shakes Market

Moody's shocked bond investors this week with a surprise two-notch downgrade that put Brazilian oil company Petrobras in junk territory. The move was seen by some investors as overly assertive,

Brightoil Reports Steady Growth in Interim Results

Brightoil Petroleum (Holdings) Limited announced its interim results for the six months ended December 31, 2014, reporting steady growth over the period.   During the period,

Davie Building LNG-powered Ferries

Canadian shipbuilder Davie held a keel laying ceremony for MV Armand-Imbeau II, marking the beginning of the hull assembly for this first of two sisterships under

News

Ferus Smit to Launch Newbuild Bulker

Ferus Smit will launch newbuild bulk carrier Arklow Breeze on Friday, March 20 at Westerbroek.   Arklow Breeze is the sixth and last vessel of a series to be

Petrobras Downgrade Shakes Market

Moody's shocked bond investors this week with a surprise two-notch downgrade that put Brazilian oil company Petrobras in junk territory. The move was seen by some investors as overly assertive,

This Week's Top Stories

The top stories this week covered everything from a DP system failure, a facelift for a WWII torpedo boat, and some mysterious tankers off the coast of Philadelphia.

Marine Science

Dredging Project to Protect Virginia Shoreline

Outer Continental Shelf sand will protect infrastructure, restore dunes and habitat   The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and Naval Air Station Oceana at Dam Neck,

ST Engineering Y-O-Y Profits Slip

Singapore Technologies Engineering Ltd  reported today its full year financial results ended 31 December 2014 (FY2014) with a Group revenue of $6.54b compared to $6.

River Levels Decreasing in Argentina

River levels in Argentina are currently decreasing and they are expected to continue over the coming week. The bottleneck remains in the River Plate access channel,

Offshore Energy

Hercules Offshore Shares Fall 33%

Drilling contractor Hercules Offshore Inc's shares fell as much as 33 percent to a record low on Friday, a day after Deutsche Bank cut its price target on the company's stock to $0.

Brightoil Reports Steady Growth in Interim Results

Brightoil Petroleum (Holdings) Limited announced its interim results for the six months ended December 31, 2014, reporting steady growth over the period.   During the period,

Mexico Approves 5 Shallow Water Areas in Round One Oil Tender

Mexico has approved the terms for five shallow water areas containing around 355 million barrels of oil equivalent as part of its Round One tender to open up the country's oil fields,

Ocean Observation

US Keen in Maritime Cooperation with India

The US is keen in exploring great opportunities for co-operation on maritime issues with India, Admiral Jonathan Greenert, Chief of Naval Operations told members

Electronics Retrofit for Taiwanese Research Vessel

L-3 SAM Electronics has been awarded a contract to retrofit propulsion control and automation systems aboard the Taiwanese Navy’s Ta Kuan hydrographic and oceanographic research vessel.

Indonesia Upbeat Ahead of IORA Chair

Indonesia is gearing up to turn its foreign policy focus westward when its role as Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) chair begins later this year, reports Jakarta Post.

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Maritime Contracts Maritime Security Maritime Standards Offshore Oil Ship Electronics Ship Repair Ship Simulators Shipbuilding / Vessel Construction Winch
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | terms and conditions | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.2507 sec (4 req/sec)