Joint efforts for better knowledge about maritime transport and the environment

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Article Published 16 Sep 2021 Last modified 09 Feb 2023
2 min read
Photo: © Shaah Shahidh on Unsplash
The European Environment Agency (EEA) and the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) have recently published the European Maritime Transport Environmental Report (EMTER), which is a joint assessment about the environmental impacts of maritime transport in Europe. We interviewed Stéphane Isoard, Head of group for water and marine topics at the EEA, who was leading the EEA team working on the report.

What was the objective of producing the EMTER report?

The main goal of the report was to provide a factual overview of the environmental issues that are linked to the maritime transport sector and point out where the main challenges and opportunities are. The EMTER report is the first European analysis on the maritime sector that is a key part of global trade, our economy, and addressing people’s needs daily. The joint work with EMSA and the report are a critical step to fill knowledge gaps in this area.

What were the main findings of the report?

Maritime transport is essential for Europe’s economy. At the same time, the sector’s activities have an impact on the environment, on climate and on the health and wellbeing of EU citizens. Ships emit considerable amounts of greenhouse gases, air pollutants and underwater noise; the spread of non-indigenous species and water pollution are additional concerns.

The maritime sector has taken measures to reduce its environmental impacts. However, much more is needed to achieve sustainability, especially since the sector is expected to grow strongly over the coming decades.

Why did you choose to do the report in collaboration with EMSA and how did the collaboration work?

We felt that there was a lot of potential to work on this topic together and join forces, as EMSA has a tremendous expertise in the maritime sector while we at the EEA are strong at the environmental and climate analysis. I personally feel that the collaboration was excellent and very efficient with both agencies contributing with their set of skills and experience towards a joint assessment, and the collaboration has been praised by key stakeholders.

What is Europe doing to address the challenges identified in the report?

People’s health and wellbeing and protecting the environment and climate are key goals of the European Green Deal. To support those goals, there are several legislative frameworks and initiatives, such as the Zero Pollution Action Plan, the Fuel EU Maritime, and the Integrated Maritime Policy.

At the same time, building international partnerships is essential as the sector is an integral part of global trade. All in all, it is an opportunity for Europe to be the frontrunner in developing a sustainable and smart maritime transport sector.

What other work is the EEA doing around marine issues?

The EEA has very wide knowledge and expertise in marine environmental issues. Last year, we published Marine messages II, which gives an exhaustive overview of the state of the marine environment in Europe together with an overview of the use of Europe's seas and its combined effects on marine ecosystems. We collect data on marine litter and analyse the state of Europe’s bathing waters.

All these resources and other thematic analysis are available through WISE-Marine and the EEA’s website.

 Stéphane Isoard

Stéphane Isoard

Head of group - water and marine
European Environment Agency


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