On 20 April, a Declaration on Blue Growth has been signed by the EU Maritime Ministers to re-affirm and re-enforce their political commitment to developing a more sustainable blue economy within the EU. Officially, the Declaration will be adopted at Informal Ministerial Conference on Blue growth, Ocean Governance in the EU and the Mediterranean, Innovation and Nautical Tourism, which was co-chaired by the Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Karmenu Vella yesterday in Malta. The sustainable development of the Blue Economy will also be a major theme at the Our Ocean conference on 5-6 October 2017, which will be co-hosted by High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini and Commissioner Karmenu Vella, the European Commission announced in a press release.
The signing of this declaration will result in an additional boost to the sustainable growth and development of key sectors in the maritime industry such as tourism, aquaculture, ocean energy and biotechnology. According to the Commission, the blue economy and its growth have the immense potential of becoming a real European success story, being able to contribute more than €500 billion a year to EU’s economy and making 5.4 million jobs available to the economy.
As New Europe previously reported, a report from the Joint Research Centre showed that the sea’s biodiversity is under a more severe pressure than ever before – a deeply alarming 50% of it have been lost in the past 50 years. In the Mediterranean only, fish stock have deteriorated at an unnerving rate, with 93% having been reported as greatly over-exploited and some even on the verge of complete and total depletion.
The Declaration is an initiative that is aimed at strengthening the sustainable development of the blue economy in the Western Mediterranean region, including hubs such as Barcelona ad Marseille, as well as touristic locations such as the Balearic Islands.
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
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.