Coasts and seas
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Human activities are causing unprecedented environmental changes for coastal and marine ecosystems. Pressures from fishing, pollution from land- and sea-based sources, urbanisation, loss and degradation of valuable habitat, and invasions of non-native species are growing worldwide. All these impacts are likely to be exacerbated by the changing climate. More
- Key facts and messages
- Observed global mean sea level rise has accelerated over the past 15 years. From 2002 to 2009 the contributions of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets to sea level rise increased. In 2007 the IPCC projected a sea level rise of 0.18 to... more
- Unsustainable fishing occurs in all European Seas and is threatening the viability of European fish stocks. 21 to 60% of the commercial fish stocks in the North-East Atlantic, the Baltic Sea and the Mediterranean are considered to be outside... more
- Sea surface temperatures and sea level are rising and likely to rise further. The resulting shifts in the geographical and seasonal distribution of marine and coastal species will require adaptations in the management of fisheries and natural... more
- Sustainable use of the seas and the conservation of marine ecosystems through an ecosystem-based approach are being pursued through the Integrated Maritime Policy and its environmental pillar, the 2008 Marine Strategy Framework Directive, under... more
- Nutrient enrichment is a major problem in the coastal and marine environment, where it accelerates the growth of phytoplankton and can lead to oxygen depletion. Concentrations of some heavy metals and persistent organic contaminants in marine... more
- Designation of coastal and marine sites as part of Natura 2000, although improving, has been slow and difficult. The conservation status of some coastal and most marine habitats still needs to be assessed, while 22 % of marine mammals are threatened... more
- Degradation of marine and coastal ecosystems is observed in the Black, Mediterranean, Baltic, North East Atlantic Seas and in the Arctic. This trend is caused by fishing, agriculture, the industrial use of chemicals, tourist development, shipping,... more
- Growth of the maritime, agriculture and tourism sectors is expected to continue. An important future objective for the Marine Strategy Framework Directive will be to ensure that this growth is sustainable to achieve and then maintain ‘Good... more
- By 2100, ocean acidity could be higher than during the past 20 million years. more
- The third lowest minimum of Arctic summer sea ice occurred in September 2010. more
- In 2007, the IPCC projected a sea level rise of 0.18 to 0.59 m above the 1990 level by 2100. more
- Recent projections show a maximum increase of sea level of about 1.0 m by 2100, while higher values up to 2.0 m cannot be excluded. more
- 30 % of Europe’s fish stocks (for which information exists) are fished outside safe biological levels. more
- The consumption of fish in Europe has been increasing over the last 15 years while fish catches from European waters have decreased. more
- Where marine species and habitat types have been assessed, the majority are found to be in unfavourable or unknown condition; only 10 % of habitats and 2 % of species are found in good condition. more
- The sea surface temperature changes in the European regional seas have been up to six times greater than in the global oceans in the past 25 years. more
- The current reduction of 0.1 in pH that has occurred over the industrial era translates to a 30 % increase in ocean acidity. This change has occurred at a rate that is about a hundred times faster than any change in acidity experienced during... more
Protected areas cover more than 1 000 000 km2 of land and more than 340 000 km2 of coastal and marine ecosystems in Europe, according to the latest data. These areas are vitally important for protecting the continent’s most vulnerable species, habitats and marine life.
From tropical islands to icy tundra, European Union overseas entities are rich in 'natural capital'. Many of these areas have highly productive land and seas, and a huge diversity of ecosystems; collectively they are home to an astounding number of globally significant species.
The water at Europe's beaches, rivers and lakes was generally of high quality in 2013, with 95 % of these sites meeting minimum requirements. Coastal sites performed slightly better than inland bathing waters, the data shows.
Countries bordering the south and east of the Mediterranean need to continually improve many aspects of environmental management to reduce pollution in the sea, according to a new assessment.
Volunteers across Europe will pick up litter on Saturday 10 May, as part of a coordinated EU Clean Up Day. The event is particularly timely, as there are growing concerns that rubbish polluting Europe's land and sea harms wildlife and may ultimately affect human health.
Climate change is already having substantial and widespread impacts around the world, according to the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Drawing on a larger body of evidence than ever before, it highlights a wide range of risks in vital areas such as food supply, human health and economic development.
People will soon be able to report the litter they find on the beach, thanks to a new mobile phone app developed by the European Environment Agency (EEA).
A recent assessment by the European Environment Agency (EEA) showed that European seas are in a worrying state. As policy makers meet to discuss the marine environment that sustains maritime development, the EEA summarises ten important facts about the ecosystems beneath the waves.