The European Union has made 23 new commitments to tackle post-consumer plastic waste problem in oceans during the 5th Our Ocean conference held in Bali, Indonesia 29-30 Oct.
The European Commission announced €300 million of EU-funded initiatives, which include the allocation of €100m for research and development (R&D) projects to tackle plastic pollution and €82m for marine and maritime research, such as ecosystem assessments, seafloor mapping and innovative aquaculture systems. Another €18.4m has been earmarked to boost the sustainability of the European blue economy .
The Blue Economy is described by the European Commission as "all economic activities related to oceans, seas and coasts.”
The EU's showpiece Earth observation programme Copernicus features prominently in the list of new commitments, with the union allocating €12.9m for maritime security and for research dedicated to coastal environmental services.
The Copernicus programme observes planet Earth and its environment and offers information services based on satellite information and in situ data.
The EU devoted a €27m fund to the programme in last year's Our Ocean conference, which it hosted in Malta.
According to the European Union, Copernicus, with its maritime surveillance system has significantly underpinned the EU's commitments to reinforce maritime security and law enforcement.
"We have to urgently reduce marine litter and other sources of pollution, halt illegal fishing and support fragile marine ecosystems,” explained Commissioner Karmenu Vella, responsible for environment, maritime affairs and fisheries.
The EU has also launched a €9m project in partnership with the UN Environment Programme to launch a coalition of aquariums to fight plastic pollution. The programme will target marine litter in South-East Asia, notably China, Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Another €7 million will go towards protection of marine ecosystems in the region.
The recent pledge follows the €550m committed by the European Union last year to preserve oceans.