EU maps out a strategy tokeep European seas clean

BRUSSELS – European Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas presented the European Union’s strategy for the protection of the seas on Monday. The strategy is based on the principle of making polluters pay and on international cooperation among neighboring states. The three seas of Europe – the northeastern Atlantic, the Baltic and the Mediterranean – all have seriously suffered from pollution and have lost species due to pollution and intensive fishing. A thoroughgoing study of the state of the seas is to be completed within four years of its date of approval by the Council of Ministers. In addition, European guidelines will be used to specify what is meant by a healthy sea. A year later, the member states will set a series of objectives toward achieving a good environmental state for the seas, and a year later they must implement a system for monitoring progress, which will include such factors as protecting ecosystems and reducing pollution. By 2016 at the latest, every member state must have developed a full program to ensure the «good environmental state» of the seas. Once approved by the Commission, these programs will go into effect in 2018. Not only the member states, but all other interested parties will participate in the programs, mainly neighboring states that have not joined the EU, environmental organizations and academics. The overall aim is to meet the project’s objectives by 2021. In a written message, Dimas stated, «The seas and oceans of Europe make an immense contribution to our quality of life and economic prosperity, but are suffering due to overexploitation, pollution, climate change and other factors.»