Europe and Central Asia
27 Jun 2018

The Depths of the Ocean Crisis

Photo: Pedro Geraldes, LIFE MaroPro Project
By Bruna Campos, EU Marine & Fisheries Policy Officer

Plastics are ruining our oceans. So is unsustainable fishing.

Seeing clear blue waters made vile by plastic bags and cups, food wrappers and straws is absolutely revolting. Let us propose even more horrific and yet ordinary, daily seashore events. Visualize a dead dolphin, having been caught in a fisher’s net, or the dead Shearwater caught on a fishing line, both casually thrown back into the sea before washing up on your child as she builds her sandcastle on that lovely beach you’re visiting this summer.

At least as shocking is politicians’ refusal to fix the problem; simply turning up at a beach clean-up won’t “save the ocean”. Of course the political game always means managing human activities and often limiting private interests for the public good. That indeed may mean fewer financial ‘friends’ and less conventional political support. But if not our elected representatives,  who will support our oceans,  our nature, and the dolphin, seabird, sea turtle, and whale who have no cash to offer?  Who will give voice and influence to the coral reefs and the Posidonia beds?

In this mid-summer newsletter, we bring you an array of summer destinations, and take you from the Swedish Baltic Coast, to the Spanish Balearic Islands, and to the coast of West Africa. Our imagination turns to summer holidays but our seaside dreams are often sold out for private greed.

This month, we also reflect on other recent EU shenanigans that are not helping to solve our ocean problems. Although, for the very first time, we got the European Commission to take up arms against single use plastic (due in large part to effective public pressure), they’ve undermined that notable ambition with their proposal for the new European Marine and Fisheries Fund which would allow national governments to bring back subsidies for overfishing.  

On a more positive note, the European Parliament have refused a European Commission proposal which amounted to fake management of Belgian fishing activities. EU checks and balances may well help drive positive change.

If you find yourself on the waters, or alongside on a lovely beach, do reflect on these issues and what you can do to fight for change. And definitely keep it clean, avoid using single use plastics such as a straw for that cocktail. But please do even more, and check us out at

Bruna Campos

EU Marine & Fisheries Policy Officer

Stichting BirdLife Europe gratefully acknowledges financial support from the European Commission. All content and opinions expressed on these pages are solely those of Stichting BirdLife Europe. The European Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.