After a recent report by scientists from the Joint Research Centre showed that the sea’s biodiversity is under a more severe pressure than ever before, with a staggering 50% of it having been lost in the past 50 years, all eyes are on maritime issues and the achieving of sustainable development. Fish stocks in the Mediterranean, for example, are deteriorating at a frightening rate, with 93% of them having been reported to be over-exploited, with a few even being on the edge of total depletion.
Today, the European Commission has officially launched a new initiative aimed at strengthening the sustainable development of the blue economy in the Western Mediterranean region. Covered hubs will include major locations such as Barcelona, Marseille, Naples and Tunis, as well as tourist locations including the Balearic Islands, Sicily and Corsica.
This new initiative will give way to the EU and its neighboring countries to work in cooperation with the aim of increasing maritime safety and security, promote sustainable blue growth and jobs, and preserve ecosystems and biodiversity.
The goals of the initiative include three major points :
- A safer and more secure maritime space
- A smart and resilient blue economy
- Better governance of the sea
In order to counter any problems, gaps and challenges for every one of the three major goals have been identified, and a number of priorities have been set.
This initiative will be funded by existing international, EU, national and regional funds and financial instruments, which will be coordinated and complementary. This is hoped to create a certain degree of leverage and attract from different public and private investors.
Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, stated: “Millions of holiday makers have a happy association with the Western Mediterranean. Like the millions more who live across the region, they understand the fragile link between conserving national habitats and traditions and ensuring economic viability. Blue economy is important for each of the countries involved and they have recognized the strength of working together.”
This initiative is based on the European Commission’s long-established experience with sea basin and macro-regional strategies (such as the Atlantic Strategy and the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region) and decades of work withing the 5+5 Dialogue. It is also founded on other various EU policies connected to the region.