Environmental activist group Greenpeace literally exposed the European Union's "failure" to protect the ocean as it projected messages calling out its lies and false promises on the Commission's HQ in Brussels on Monday.
With this action, it called on Commission president Ursula von der Leyen and environment commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius — who previously said “our future depends” on the oceans — to deliver on their promises to protect the oceans, which so far, have been empty.
“The European Union must deliver the ocean protection it has repeatedly promised. Along with the UK and the US, it’s largely responsible for the failure to reach a deal at the last round of UN negotiations in August 2022," Laura Meller of Greenpeace’s Protect the Oceans campaign said.
Own seas in 'dismal state'
The organisation noted the importance of such a treaty, both globally as less than 1% of the world's oceans are protected, but also specifically for the EU itself, as its own marine environment is in a "dismal state," with 99% of European waters unprotected from “high impact activities”, like bottom trawling or mining.
“The EU loves to present itself as an ocean champion, despite its own waters being in a dismal state and the industrial fishing fleets of EU countries devastating sea life and jeopardising coastal communities in West Africa and elsewhere," Meller noted.
"It’s time for the European Commission to step up and secure the full protection of at least 30% of our oceans from exploitation.”
It added that, while governments agreed to protect at least 30% of the world’s oceans (and land) by 2030 during COP15 at the end of last year, this landmark agreement will only be deliverable if a "strong Global Ocean Treaty is signed" at the next UN negotiations taking place at the end of February.
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Ahead of these meetings, Greenpeace called on the EU and other governments of the High Ambition Coalition to return to the negotiating table to agree on a credible offer that would help get a Global Ocean Treaty over the line.
This includes ensuring sufficient means of finance, committing to sharing fairly future profits from ocean resources with the Global South, and ensuring the final treaty is robust enough to deliver fully protected areas across the high seas.