April 21, 2017
The EU maritime ministers signed Thursday, April 20, a declaration on blue growth, reaffirming their political commitment to further grow EU's sustainable blue economy.
The signing came a day after the European Commission (EC) launched a new initiative for the sustainable development of the blue economy in the Western Mediterranean region, which covers economic hubs like Barcelona, Marseille, Naples and Tunis. It also includes tourist destinations like the Balearic Islands, Sicily and Corsica.
The declaration was also adopted on Thursday at the "Informal Ministerial Conference on Blue Growth, Ocean Governance in the EU and the Mediterranean, Innovation and Nautical Tourism" in Malta.
It aims to give an additional boost to the sustainable development of key sectors including aquaculture, ocean energy and biotechnology. According to the EC, blue growth could contribute more than €500 billion (US$536 billion) a year to EU's economy and represent 5.4 million jobs.
A recent report by scientists from the Joint Research Centre indicates that 50% of the sea's biodiversity has been lost in the last 50 years.
On the new initiative covering the Western Mediterranean region, Environment, Maritime Affairs And Fisheries Commissioner Karmenu Vella said, "Millions of holiday makers have a happy association with the Western Mediterranean. Like the millions more who live across the region, they understand the fragile link between conserving national habitats and traditions and ensuring economic viability. Blue economy is important for each of the countries involved and they have recognised the strength of working together", said Karmenu Vella, commissioner for environment, maritime affairs and fisheries.
Johannes Hahn, commissioner for European neighbourhood policy and enlargement negotiations, also said: ''This new regional initiative recognises and taps into the economic potential of the Mediterranean Sea and its coast lines to further enhance economic growth, contribute to job creation and eventually the stabilisation of the region".