Ocean governance: EU joins the International Coral Reef Initiative to protect marine ecosystems

Today Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevičius, is representing the EU in the General Assembly of the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI) which confirmed EU’s membership in this global partnership for the conservation of the world’s coral reefs. In the context of the EU’s ambitious International Ocean Governance agenda, the ICRI membership is an opportunity to work together with the almost 90 organisations and countries – members of the ICRI – which are acting to protect vulnerable marine ecosystems by sustainably managing coral reefs and associated ecosystems, building capacity and raising awareness. Commissioner Sinkevičius said: “Coral reefs are emblematic of rich marine life. Yet, the rapid degradation of these underwater worlds is also a very stark reminder of the pressures that human activity put on our planet, not least our oceans. The protection of these vital marine ecosystems is of great importance to biodiversity, sustainable food supply and the global climate system.” Coral reefs and related ecosystems are facing serious degradation, primarily due to human-caused stresses such as pollution, habitat destruction and climate change. This work will feed into the preparations for the UN Biodiversity Conference in Kunming, China (COP 15) later this year that is expected to agree on an ambitious post-2020 global biodiversity framework. The Commission presented last year, as part of the European Green Deal, its Biodiversity Strategy which aims, amongst others, to strengthen the protection of marine ecosystems and to restore them to a “good environmental status”.