The theme for 2012 European Maritime Day Conference, this year held in Gothenburg, Sweden on 21-22 May, is: “Sustainable Growth from Oceans, Seas and Coasts: Blue Growth”.’ Blue growth’ is the economic pillar of the EU’s Integrated Maritime Policy which is fully integrated into the Europe 2020 strategy. Its main target is the creation of growth and new jobs in the maritime economy. This target could be achieved through further sustainable development of maritime sectors of the European economy.
Europe is the most developed maritime economy in comparison with all other continents. Thus, EU can harvest an important share of the potential of oceans, seas and coasts to the benefit of citizens and society as a whole.
The maritime festival in Gothenburg includes river and quayside events that will showcase the diversity in the sea: maritime research, threats to the sea environment, the effects of climate change, fishing, shipping, the development of harbours, marine national parks, maritime spatial planning, wind and wave energy, traditional ships and so on.
Overfishing and protection of marine biodiversity, as well as the need to inform consumers of the benefits of buying sustainable fish products constitute major agenda issues of the Water & Ocean Governance Programme of the UN Development Programme (UNDP). In a recent press conference at UN Headquarters in New York on the impact of overfishing, UNDP head Andrew Hudson argued: “fisheries are a major piece of the global economy and a major source of jobs for people both in the developed and the developing world.” He added: “Fish are a major piece in the global environment and we have to pay close attention to this issue if we want to maintain healthy and productive oceans going forward.”
According to UN estimates, approximately 85 per cent of the world’s fish stocks are overexploited, depleted, or recovering from depletion; and the world economy can gain up to $50 billion every year by restoring fish stocks and reducing fishing capacity to an optimal level.
Hudson emphasized the influence of both the private sector as well as consumers in demanding sustainable fishing practices, but underscored that the involvement of fishermen, non-governmental organizations and governments is needed for sustainable fishing practices to prosper.