This week, the European Commission presented a proposal for a new Nature Restoration Law. This will be the first law of its kind in the world as it sets legally binding targets for the restoration of degraded terrestrial and marine ecosystems across the EU. This is a major turning point for solving the current biological and climate crisis and re-establishing a healthy relationship between man and nature.
We welcome the long-awaited publication of this proposal, which demonstrates the European Commission’s commitment to the European Green Plan and Biodiversity Strategy 2030.
The Nature Restoration Law could change the situation for endangered marine ecosystems and species that are under increasing pressure in Europe. However, to enable the restoration, this law should also address the shortcomings in the implementation of the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy, which has so far failed to address the harmful effects of fisheries as required by EU Environmental Law.
Unsustainable fishing is the biggest driver of biodiversity loss in our seas, strong measures are necessary to achieve the goals of restoring marine ecosystems.
The legislative proposal requires member states to detail in their national restoration plans the fisheries measures they intend to adopt under the Common Fisheries Policy, but does not include a safeguard mechanism to overcome potential deadlocks between member states, to ensure that restoration of marine ecosystems is achieved by 2030 as planned.
The draft law will now be negotiated by the European Council and the European Parliament, and non-governmental organizations are calling on them to step up their ambitions to deal with the environmental crisis of the state of the sea. We call on both institutions to specifically address unsustainable fishing, which is incompatible with restoration and which the European Commission has not adequately addressed in its draft law.
“Meadows of Posidonia are threatened by the use of trawling fishing gear, but also by the free feeling of anchors. To stop further degradation and enable the restoration of this extremely important and endangered marine habitat, it is necessary to establish effective anchorage control and frameworks for the further development of nautical tourism in the Adriatic,” said Zrinka Jakl, Managing Board President of the Sunce Association.
Key elements for effective marine restoration include:
- adoption of a legally binding target for the strict protection of at least 10% of European seas by 2030;
- mechanisms to ensure that restoration measures will not be jeopardized by destructive fishing practices;
- ensuring the transparency of the process and results of the national nature restoration plans of the EU member states, with the inclusion of all relevant stakeholders in the processes of creation and monitoring;
- providing mechanisms for overcoming inefficient procedures of the Common Fisheries Policy, which could prevent the control of destructive “offshore” fishing practices and the achievement of objectives for the restoration of marine ecosystems;
- better regulation and control of other destructive practices for marine ecosystems such as free anchoring, embankment and concreting of the coast, and discharge of wastewater.