The oceans and their future

International Ocean Governance in need of a multidisciplinary approach

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International Ocean Governance is a particularly relevant topic in light of the problems that oceans and seas are currently facing, and one where the EU is leading by example. Policies aimed at reducing the impact of unsustainable human activities at sea, such as overfishing, have become tradition in Europe, and the Union is now trying to involve the rest of the world in a common effort to protect the marine environment.

The Commission's paper "Setting the course for a sustainable blue planet - Joint Communication on the EU’s International Ocean Governance agenda" (JOIN(2022) 28 final) sets out a series of policies with the goal of reaching ocean sustainability by 2030. The EESC supports the efforts to halt and reverse the loss of marine biodiversity and to transform the ocean into a safe and secure place where multilateral rules are followed.

The Committee is convinced that the ocean is a complex system and its governance therefore needs to be interdisciplinary, taking into account activities made on land (where pollutants such as fertilisers, antibiotics and pesticides come from) as well as in the sea. There are many issues on the table: illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU); the decarbonization of maritime activities; marine protected areas; a prohibition of deep-sea mining until sufficient scientific evidence is gathered in order to assess its impact; the responsibility for flag states and the issue of ship demolition; unexploded munitions from different wars of the past now leaking toxic substances into the water; the promotion of ocean literacy and investments in research and technology.

The hearing on the 18 November 2022 will be an opportunity to discuss these topics with leading experts in the field of ocean governance, and to reach conclusions from a civil society view. The resulting expertise will feed into the EESC's opinion REX/558 "Setting the course for a sustainable blue planet, an update of the international ocean governance agenda".