(27 November 2020) – Efforts to protect the European Union seas are failing to slow biodiversity loss or prevent overfishing, with the Mediterranean under particular threat, a report by auditors said yesterday.
European Union countries have given protected status, which can include restrictions on fishing, oil and gas exploration or shipping, to some 11% of their sea area. However, only 1% are strictly safeguarded, and many are failing to protect vulnerable species from threats such as illegal trawling, the European Court of Auditors said.
The report covered seas off Spain, France, Italy and Portugal and said the EU needed to consider protecting more Mediterranean areas from fishing, which can damage the sea floor and cause a bycatch of sharks, seabirds and turtles. Birds, sharks and rays all have a negative biodiversity status in the Mediterranean.
Fishing rates in the Mediterranean are more than double sustainable levels, the audit found, while in the Atlantic EU rules have improved fish stocks. (EurActiv)