EEA publish report on the condition of Europe’s seas

30 June 2020

Article: 54/2607

On 25 June 2020, the European Environment Agency (EEA) published a report, which found that the current condition of Europe’s seas is generally poor, with historic and current usage resulting in changes in the composition of marine species and habitats. 

The report contains several key findings: 

  • The EU’s maritime economy continues to grow and the competition for marine resources like fish, fossil fuels, minerals or renewable energy production and space is expected to increase. This will add extra pressure on already overexploited marine ecosystems. To avoid this, growth in this sector needs to be decoupled from the degradation and depletion of the marine ecosystem and be contained within limits of sustainable use. 
  • Despite EU and global commitments, biodiversity loss in Europe’s seas has not been halted. A high number of marine species and habitat assessments continue to show an unfavourable conservation status. 
  • Management measures targeting individual marine species and habitats have led to improvements in their condition in some EU marine regions, but this fragmented success does not offset the combined effects of multiple pressures from human activities across all of Europe's seas. 
  • Where regional cooperation has been established and implemented consistently, negative trends in certain pressures are beginning to be reversed, for example, levels of nutrients and contaminants or the introduction of non‐indigenous species. 
  • Land-sea interactions, as well as the significance of coastal areas, are important dimensions to consider when actions are designed to reduce pressures on the marine environment.

The report concludes that, with political resolve, additional resources and increased coordination among stakeholders and policy integration, Europe can move towards a good condition for its seas within the existing EU policy framework by 2030. To achieve this goal, pressures on marine ecosystems must to be reduced. With its ambition to protect 30% of Europe’s seas, with 10% under strict protection, the new EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2030 brings a new impetus for reducing such pressures. 

Source: EEA, 25 June 2020