The European Green Deal: An opportunity to secure clean and healthy waters

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13 Jan

The European Green Deal, presented by Commission President von der Leyen last December, is one of the most ambitious proposals put on the table by the newly appointed European Commission. The strategy aims, not only to make Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050, but also to provide a paradigm shift and to build a new growth strategy to transform the way the EU produces and consumes. The European Green Deal is relevant in many ways for the angling community but many conditions will have to be met for it to be successful.

The European Green Deal is "a roadmap for making the EU's economy sustainable by turning climate and environmental challenges into opportunities across all policy areas and making the transition just and inclusive for all"1.

In order to achieve this, the European Green Deal encompasses several areas of action: 
 
  • Increasing the EU’s climate ambition for 2030 and 2050
  • Preserving and restoring ecosystems and biodiversity
  • A zero-pollution ambition for a toxic-free environment
  • From ‘Farm to Fork’: designing a fair, healthy and environmentally-friendly food system
  • Industry mobilisation for a clean and circular economy
  • Clean, affordable and secure energy
  • Building and renovating in an energy and resource-efficient way
  • Accelerating the shift to sustainable and smart mobility

Under the Green Deal, the European Commission plans to present a new EU Biodiversity Strategy in March 2020 that will be followed up by specific actions in 2021. The Strategy will represent an important opportunity to halt biodiversity loss, that remains a very concerning issue in the EU considering that the latest “State of the Environment Report 2020”, published by the European Environment Agency (EEA), highlighted that only 23% of protected species and 16% of habitats are in favourable conservation status and that Europe is set to miss its 2020 biodiversity target2

The Blue Economy is also part of the Green Deal as the strategy acknowledges the important role played by the oceans in mitigating climate change. Fisheries will be dealt with under different parts of the plan but the Commission hints that it will continue to work under the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) to reduce the impacts on fishing on the ecosystems, that it will support the establishment of more connected and well-managed marine protected areas and that it will pursue a zero-tolerance approach to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. 

Finally, the Commission plans to put forward a zero-pollution action plan for water, air and soil in 2021. In particular, the Green Deal recognises that it is essential to restore the natural functions of ground and surface water in order to preserve biodiversity in lakes, rivers and wetlands. Under the ‘Farm to Fork’ strategy, the Commission aims to address the problem of pollution from excess nutrients. On top of it, the Commission will put forward measures to tackle new and particularly harmful sources of pollution such as microplastics and chemicals as well as solutions to assess and address their ‘cocktail effect’. 

European anglers are very much concerned by the environment’s fast deterioration and the negative consequences this is having on ecosystems and fragile endemic fish species. Vulnerable fish are going extinct as waters warm up because of climate change and obstacles such as hydropower plants and dams which slow or stop the rivers flow. The hope is that by putting forward a holistic approach and some strict and measurable targets for the conservation of the environment and the ecosystems, the EU will be able to reverse the current negative trend for the well-being of nature and citizens. Reversing biodiversity loss is particularly important as the EU already missed its 2010 target and is set to miss the 2020 one too. The way in which the future actions will be developed as well as the way in which the trade-offs between different targets and objectives will be managed remain to be seen and these elements will be crucial for the Green Deal’s capacity to deliver its objectives. 


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