Europe's vast and diverse regional seas
Europe's seas cover an area larger than the continent itself. They drive our weather systems, produce the oxygen in the air we breathe, provide us with food and energy, and host some of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet.
However, for living organisms, conditions in Europe's seas are changing faster than ever. This has impacts on marine ecosystems and their biodiversity, and jeopardises the services they provide to our societies. These changes are caused by human induced climate change, increasing resource use (e.g. for food, energy and mineral extraction) and associated pollution.
Protecting Europe's regional seas
Marine protected areas (MPAs) are geographically distinct zones for which protection objectives are set. They constitute a globally connected system for safeguarding biodiversity and maintaining marine ecosystem health and the supply of ecosystem services.
Marine reserves form a subset of MPAs in which impacts from human activities such as resource extraction and fisheries are not permitted. Networks of MPAs or marine reserves operate together at various scales and cover a range of protection levels, which work towards objectives that individual MPAs cannot achieve.
The European Union has made significant progress towards globally agreed targets for establishing marine protected areas The European Union (EU) has acted on its responsibility to maintain the health of its seas. As such political commitments including specific EU legislation, have been made by both the EU and individual countries.
One of the key policy commitments is Aichi Target 11 under the Convention on Biological Diversity.
The full online publication can be found at eea.europa.eu
More information about the Aichi Target 11 can be found at cbd.int