Since 2008, 8 June has been officially designated as World Oceans Day by the United Nation General Assembly. This year, I am celebrating it in London, at the “GLOBE World Oceans Day Forum“, where fisheries Ministers and legislators from across Europe are meeting.
It is the occasion for discussing about the forthcoming reform of the Common Fisheries Policy that I will present this summer. But also for honouring oceans and seas, for their beauty, and for their immense richness, benefitting mankind since the dawn of time.
Immense but not endless: Man has been profiting of Nature for a long time and the supremacy given by ever evolving technologies overcame virtually all limits. Our new technologies, combined with our numbers, have made us dangerous.
We all need to understand that those with the most technology have the greatest moral obligation to use it wisely. We must always bear in mind that what we do to nature, we do to ourselves.
It is now time to act responsibly. People are starting understanding that and more and more support a shift towards policies and practices aiming at allowing future generations to enjoy the sea and its resources as we do.
Today, the World Oceans Day, I reaffirm my commitment to deliver results, to translate ideas into real changes, to keep our focus on sustainability.
In the EU nine stocks out of ten are overfished and a third of them are in worrying state. Europe has to rely on imports for two-thirds of its fish. But the problem of overcapacity and overfishing is not just European: it’s everywhere in the world!
Fish are a wild and limited resource – one that we have to learn to use judiciously and sparingly. If we overfish a species beyond its capacity to reproduce, that species may never recover to its previous levels. And because nature doesn’t like voids, another species will take its place, with a chain reaction of effects that is hard to predict. And we will have changed the ecosystem for ever.
The thorough review of the Common Fisheries Policy we have started to undertake is to change the way we fish. From now on we want to uphold ecological sustainability as the source and economic and social sustainability as the results – and not the other way round.
I hope that today’s celebrations will raise Europeans’ awareness further, because we need all their support, as they will play a key role in determining the level of ambition of our reforms: as consumers, they will be driving the market towards more sustainable practices; as citizens, they can influence politics; as human beings, they can celebrate and respect our Oceans.