Turning the tide on Europe’s Oceans and Seas

A new report published today paints a worrying picture of Europe’s seas. The Commission’s analysis, which will be presented at the “Healthy Oceans – Productive Ecosystems” (HOPE) conference in Brussels on 3-4 March, shows a marine environment that will require urgent efforts to reach good status by 2020.

Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik said: “The message is clear: Europe’s seas and oceans are not in good shape. But we depend on these seas, and we need to find a balance. That means finding ways to reap their economic potential without increasing the pressure on an already fragile environment, creating growth and jobs that are secure in the long term.”

The report, together with the European Environment Agency’s “Marine messages” also published today, offers the first comprehensive overview of the state of EU seas. Member States have reported on the state of their marine waters, on what they consider to be “good environmental status”, and on the targets they have put in place to reach good status. The findings in the report are accompanied by recommendations for the four marine regions and for individual Member States. The report shows that:

Thanks to extensive reports from Member States, we now know a lot more about our seas and oceans, what the problems are, and what we can do to improve the situation. Most indicators are in the red, with 88 % of fish stocks threatened in the Mediterranean and Black Sea for instance. But the sustainability of catches is improving, albeit slowly. Greater efforts are needed to reach the 2020 EU goal for healthy and productive European seas. Efforts to improve the situation are hampered by a lack of coordination between Member States: good status could be achieved more easily – and more cheaply – if Member States reinforced their cooperation.

Next Steps

These findings, and the way forward, will be discussed on March 3-4 at the HOPE (“Healthy Oceans- Productive Ecosytems”) conference, which will bring together government, NGOs, academia and other stakeholders working with or in relation to the European marine environment, in Brussels. The conference is being web-streamed.


The report published today comes six years after the adoption of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive. The Directive is intended to ensure good environmental status for the EU’s marine waters by 2020, and to protect the resource base upon which marine-related economic and social activities depend. The Directive takes an ecosystem approach to managing all human activities that have an impact on the marine environment, integrating the concepts of environmental protection and sustainable use.

Under the directive, Member States develop strategies for their marine waters to bring them up to good environmental status. These strategies must be kept up to date and reviewed every 6 years.

For more information:

The European Commission’s report, which contains recommendations for each marine region and each coastal Member State, is available, together with a preview of the European Environment Agency’s future report on the State of the Marine Environment and an in-depth analysis of Member State’s reports:


Details of the HOPE conference and how to register or watch via webstream:


The European Environment Agency’s report on the State of European Seas:


See also: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/marine/index_en.htm

Contacts :

For the press: Joe Hennon (+32 2 295 35 93)

For the public: Europe Direct by phone 00 800 6 7 8 9 10 11 or by e­mail


European Commission – IP/14/169 20/02/2014

Turning the tide on Europe’s Oceans and Seas