During today’s Q&A session, Virginius Sinkevičius the new European Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, emphasised the importance of the protection of the oceans.
He said that the new Biodiversity Strategy has a strong focus on the marine environment and that it will target not only international aspects such as the high seas and regions such as the Arctic, but also better protection of the EU seas and coastal areas to ensure biodiversity there. Moreover, he is hoping that an agreement on protection of the high seas might be possible to get soon.
The EU already has a strong focus on oceans with the Marine Strategy Framework Directive and will continue to fight overfishing. Sinkevičius stated that in our international work on the Sustainable Development Goals we have the target on harmful fisheries subsidies which I hope we will be able to contribute constructively to and lead by example.
He also responded that microplastics was an important issue and that the EU is moving forwards with its Directive to reduce single use plastics – it will not be delayed by COVID-19. With all of the financial support packages, Sinkevičius said that we have to think about the future and that they support the long-term, in line with the Green Deal and the Action Plan on the Circular Economy. For example, the “right to repair” will definitely remain. In addition, he reminded that it is even more important now to enable cost-effective reuse.
Finally, he spoke about being very supportive of the small-scale fisheries sector and that he was pleased to announce that they had been able to implement some financial support to the fisheries sector and the effects of the COVID-19 at record time – already in place, and thanked the co-legislators for that.