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EU pledges €3.5 billion to protect world's oceans

April 16, 2024

The European Union has pledged more than three billion dollars to protect the world's oceans from damage caused by human activity.

A jellyfish in the blue ocean
The UN adopted the first-ever treaty to protect marine life in the high seas in 2023Image: Kim Jens Bauer/PantherMedia/IMAGO

The European Union has pledged €3.5 billion ($3.71 billion) to protect the world's oceans and promote sustainability through a series of initiatives this year, the EU's top environment official said on Tuesday.

Virginijus Sinkevicius, the European Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, said the "ocean is part of who were are, and it is our responsibility" while announcing the initiatives at the "Our Ocean" conference in Athens.

The annual conference, attended by about 120 countries, include supporting 14 investments and one reform in sustainable fisheries in Cyprus, Greece, Poland, Portugal worth about €1.9 billion.

Another €980 million under the EU's Recovery and Resilience Facility will be used in Cyprus, Finland, Greece, Italy and Spain to support four investments and two reforms to fight marine pollution.

The aim of the conference is to promote and support the idea of the "blue economy" which the World Bank defines as “sustainable use of ocean resources to benefit economies, livelihoods and ocean ecosystem health.”

Great Barrier Reef under threat as ocean temperatures rise

Greece strongly embraces idea given its location

Greece, which includes thousands of islands and which has the longest Mediterranean coastline of any littoral state, also plans to present its national strategy on marine biodiversity protection at the conference.

The European Union's Copernicus Climate Change Service said last month that ocean temperatures hit a record high in February, in a dataset that goes back to 1979. Overfishing and plastic pollution are also major threats to oceans.

Plastics entering the world's oceans could nearly triple by 2040 if no further action is taken, research has shown. 

ac/rm (Reuters, DW)