Skip to main content

News|05 Mar, 2020

EU on a cliff edge for ensuring a sustainable ocean

SDG14 Report

[WWF EPO] Three of the four UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to save our ocean, due in 2020, will not be achieved.

A new WWF report sounds the alarm to European decision makers and the global signatories of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) over failed progress on SDG14, the Goal for conservation and sustainable use of our ocean. WWF’s assessment shows that three of the four SDG14 targets due in 2020 will not have been achieved by the end of this year, with the fourth target only partly achieved.

The following SDGs will be missed in 2020:

  • SDG 14.2, “to sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems … and take action for their restoration in order to achieve healthy and productive oceans”
  • SDG 14.4, “to effectively regulate harvesting, end overfishing, illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and destructive fishing practices, and implement science-based management plans in order to restore fish stocks in the shortest time feasible”
  • SDG 14.6, “to prohibit certain forms of fisheries subsidies which contribute to overcapacity and overfishing, eliminate subsidies that contribute to illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and refrain from introducing new such subsidies”

Only partly achieved:

  • SDG 14.5, “to conserve at least 10% of coastal and marine areas, consistent with national and international law and based on the best available scientific information”

WWF finds the EU Member States to be unequivocally missing the mark on provisions for biodiversity conservation, healthy marine ecosystems and sustainable and viable fisheries. The absence of effective protection of marine ecosystems with sustainable management plans, failure to align the EU’s fleet capacity with fishing opportunities, the reintroduction of harmful fishing subsidies and continued sustained overfishing indicate critical gaps in compliance with existing EU legislation.

Dr Samantha Burgess, Head of Marine Policy at WWF European Policy Office said: “We must put an end to claiming to save nature whilst ignoring two thirds of our planet. The EU has a genuine opportunity to mitigate the disastrous impacts of the climate and biodiversity crises by stressing ocean action as an integral component of the European Green Deal.”

As the world’s largest seafood market and with a marine area covering over six million square kilometres across four distinct sea regions, WWF calls on the EU to lead by example and stand by its commitments to all life above and below water. This starts with the development of a coherent, overarching strategy to ensure that all the Sustainable Development Goals are achieved by 2030.


Read the full report

Note to editors:

WWF recommended minimum actions to effectively achieve SDG14 targets and the UN 2030 Agenda include:

  • EU Member States ensure that the main priority of Marine Protected Areas is the conservation of biodiversity and marine ecosystem services, not short-term economic opportunity. MPAs must effectively conserve and restore ecosystems, and include zones that are fully protected from destructive activities.
  • EU decision makers commit to double the EU’s current level of removing CO2 from the atmosphere by 2030, achieved by supporting the activity and expansion of European carbon sinks, in particular through ecosystem restoration.
  • EU Member States follow advice based on the best-available scientific evidence to set fishing opportunities aligned with sustainable levels and apply the precautionary approach when data on the status of marine populations is lacking.
  • EU decision makers maintain the ban on harmful subsidies that increase fishing capacity and eliminate all subsidies to operational effort-enhancing costs, including engine replacement.
  • The EU fully implements the Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) Regulation and applies sanctions for non-compliant vessels to deter IUU activities and help compensate for the damage done to marine ecosystems, as well as to the communities impacted by reduced marine stocks and diminished seafood production economies.

Read the original press release from WWF European Policy Office

A diverse array of fish swim above reef-building corals grow on a reef slope in the Solomon Islands.

Share this article

Other news

Last modified 19/04/22

Close search

Do you have questions?

Go to contact us if you have questions.

For press

Visit out newsroom where you can find press releases, reports, and new articles.

Telephone our press team: 08-54657500