European Union announces a new maritime strategy for the 21st century

The European Union has announced a new maritime strategy that integrates all strands of power in the maritime sector.  Citing the fact that the seas provide the EU with five million jobs, food, and ways to move goods, it identifies the sea as a vital natural resource and a key for economic growth.

The new maritime policy is considered “a rounded approach for the 21st century.”  It will commence what is described as “a radical shake-up of how European waters are regulated.”

The policy was unveiled at a press conference on 10 October in Brussels, Belgium.

The European Commission (EC) said the new policy will build on Europe's strengths in marine research, technology and innovation and will be anchored in the European Union's (EU) overarching commitment to ensuring that economic development does not come at the price of environmental sustainability.

Commission President, José Manuel Barroso, who initiated the new approach to maritime policy, said, "I am convinced that a great part of our future lies in the untapped potential of the oceans. Our proposal for an integrated maritime policy has been designed to generate growth, jobs and sustainability. We conceived it to promote our common European interest and to seize all opportunities that the oceans offer, while acting in a sustainable manner. It is part and parcel of our strategy to modernise Europe and prepare it for the globalised world".

Commissioner for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs, Joe Borg, added: "Our stakeholders have spoken and we have listened. This is a crucial first step for Europe's oceans and seas – unlocking the potential and facing the challenges of a Maritime Europe will be our common goal. It will allow us to make the most of our maritime assets and will help Europe face some of the major challenges before it".

The strategic goals of the action plan include:

* A European Maritime Transport Space without barriers

* A European Strategy for Marine Research

* National integrated maritime policies to be developed by Member States

* An integrated network for maritime surveillance

* A Roadmap towards maritime spatial planning by Member States

* Elimination of pirate fishing and destructive high seas bottom trawling

* Promotion of a European network of maritime clusters

* A review of EU labour law exemptions for the shipping and fishing sectors

* A European Marine Observation and Data Network

* A Strategy to mitigate the effects of Climate Change on coastal regions.

Full details of the strategy can be found at the following URL:

http://ec.europa.eu/maritimeaffairs/index_en.html

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