In efforts to protect the Mediterranean marine environment, ships steaming through the Mediterranean Sea can only use fuels containing low sulphur.
The agreement was reached between the European Union and the contracting parties of the United Nation’s Barcelona Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean through a new declaration. The declaration endorses a 2022-2027 strategy for a healthy, clean and climate-resilient Mediterranean.
“The Mediterranean Sea has historically been at the heart of societal development for the region as well as a major motorway of the sea. Climate change, overexploitation and pollution have led to many pressures on this fragile ecosystem”, underlined Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius during the 22nd meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP).
“Our commitment today manifests the will to work with our non-EU partners to achieve high standards of environmental protection in line with our European Green Deal. I am particularly proud that all contracting parties have agreed to designate the Mediterranean as a sulphur emission control area to protect the health of millions of Mediterranean citizens and their marine environment from ship’s pollution”, added Mr Sinkevičius.
With the large number of human activities that take place on the Mediterranean Sea, its marine ecosystem is subject to many pressures from human activities. They include the contamination from pollutants, marine litter, the unsustainable extraction of fish, underwater noise, non-indigenous species, and physical disturbance of the seabed.
In 1975, the UN Environment Programmes (UNEP) created the Mediterranean action plan, to provide a regional framework and address common environmental challenges in the Mediterranean. A year later in 1976, the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean (Barcelona Convention) was adopted. The Convention has 22 contracting parties, including the EU and 8 EU Mediterranean Member States.