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EU launches Western Med strategy

Published by FiskerForum, 20-04-2017 · info@fiskerforum.dk

The EU Commission has launched its initiative for the sustainable development of the Western Mediterranean region’s blue economy, covering both established coastal economic hubs and taking in tourist destinations such as Balearic Islands, Sicily and Corsica.

According to the EU Commission, the region's biodiversity is under severe pressure with a recent report by scientists from the Joint Research Centre indicating that 50% has been lost in the last 50 years. In addition to this are recent security and safety concerns from the increase in migration from the South to the North. The initiative is intended to provide a platform to allow EU and neighbouring countries to work together to increase maritime safety and security, promote sustainable blue growth and jobs, and preserve ecosystems and biodiversity.

"Millions of holiday makers have a happy association with the Western Mediterranean. Like the millions more who live across the region, they understand the fragile link between conserving national habitats and traditions and ensuring economic viability. Blue economy is important for each of the countries involved and they have recognised the strength of working together,” said Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries.

Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations commented that this regional initiative taps into the economic potential of the Mediterranean and its coastlines to enhance economic growth, contribute to job creation and eventually the stabilisation of the region.

“It is an important step towards closer coordination and cooperation among participating countries,' he said.

The initiative has not emerged overnight and is the result of years of dialogue between ten countries of the Western Mediterranean region willing to work together on these shared interests for the region. These are five EU Member States (France, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Malta), and five Southern partner countries (Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia).

The goals of the initiative are simply stated as being to foster a safer and more secure maritime space, to promote a smart and resilient blue economy and to achieve better governance of the sea.

There are gaps and challenges that have been identified and a number of priorities and targeted actions have been set for each goal.

The Goal 1 priorities include co-operation between national coast guards and the response to accidents and oil spills. Specific actions will focus on the upgrade of traffic monitoring infrastructure, data sharing and capacity building. Goal 2 priorities include new data sourcing, biotechnology and coastal tourism. For Goal 3, priority is given to spatial planning, marine knowledge, habitat conservation and sustainable fisheries.

The initiative will be funded by existing international, EU, national and regional funds and financial instruments, which will be co-ordinated and complementary. This should create leverage and attract funding from other public and private investors

The EU Commission describes this initiative as an example of the EU's successful neighbourhood policy, following the 10-year MedFish4Ever Declaration pledge secured only a few weeks ago on Mediterranean fish stocks.

'The two projects will enhance each other in protecting the region's ecological and economic wealth,' the EU Commission stated.

Source: EU Commission

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