Story | 01 Jun, 2017

How can we better protect Europe’s oceans and seas? The future of marine protected areas debated in Malta

Malta, 31 May 2017 – Representatives of European Member States, the European Commission marine specialists and stakeholders convened with IUCN and the Environment & Resources Authority - on behalf of the Maltese Presidency of the Council of the EU - to discuss the protection of European seas and oceans and to share first hand experiences of the opportunities and challenges of protecting Europe’s marine environment.

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Photo: IUCN/Alberto Arroyo Schnell

The conference, “Marine Protected Areas: Initiatives and Opportunities,” exchanged best practices, case studies, and views on the opportunities offered by Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in addressing the challenges of a changing biodiversity in Europe. Issues such as fisheries, Invasive Alien Species (IAS) and financing were debated as well as the relevance of stakeholders and how best to involve them in MPA management.

The first of two panels explored European examples from Malta, Sweden, Spain and EU Overseas Countries and Territories and Outermost Regions of the successes and challenges of managing MPAs. The panel discussed the need to move beyond the designation of MPAs, which – although important – is only the first step towards protecting Europe’s seas. The speakers emphasised the need for adequate management so as to sustainably protect of our seas. Pollution and Invasive Alien Species were also highlighted as important drivers affecting the state of marine environments, which need to be addressed in order to improve their poor conservation status. Panellists included: Christopher Cousin, Senior Officer, Environment & Resources Authority, Malta; Stefan Berggren, Head of Division (Marine, Water, Nature Director), Ministry of Environment and Energy, Sweden; Victoria González Vela, Coordinator, Biodiversity Foundation, Spain; Carole Martinez, Senior Programme Coordinator, IUCN Regional Seas and EU Overseas Programme; and Andrea Monaco, IUCN Invasive Species Specialist Group.

Enhancing MPA management was the focus of the second panel, which included Humberto Delgado Rosa, Director Natural Capital, DG ENV; Stefano Donati, Director, Egadi Islands MPA, Italy; Dr Alan Deidun, Associate Professor, University of Malta, Malta; and Robert Turk, MedPAN, Institute of the Republic of Slovenia for Nature Conservation. The main topic of this session centred around the importance of including and involving all stakeholders in marine protection and management. The future of Europe’s seas concerns all actors, particularly local or small-scale fisherman and they must all be considered to ensure successful conservation of Europe’s seas and oceans.

The results from this meeting aim to feed into upcoming discussions this year surrounding the topic of marine protection,  such as the SDG 14 The Ocean Conference in New York next week or the Our Ocean Conference in Malta in October. Efforts to protect marine environments are currently being made on a national, regional and global scale which are in line with requirements of Aichi Target 11 and Resolution 50 from the IUCN World Conservation Congress 2016.

“Protecting our oceans is the business of all of us. Local, national, regional and global coordinated efforts of all actors are needed: working together is a must,” said Luc Bas, Director, IUCN European Regional Office and moderator of event.


A more detailed review of the event will be available soon.