The European Environment Agency warned today that 93 percent of the European sea is being affected by human activity, with pollution, loss of habitats and degradation of ecosystems among the main problems.
Therefore, Europe will miss the target it had set for this year for its marine waters in relation to contaminants, eutrophication (excess of algae and loss of oxygen to fauna), invasive species, commercial fishing and marine waste.
In a report released today, the agency points out that the most intense effects are being felt in the coastal areas of the North Sea, the Baltic, the Adriatic and the western Mediterranean.
The agency notes that the growth of the European marine economy is increasing competition for space and resources and argues that human activity in the oceans and on land cannot continue to destroy marine ecosystems.
Among the identified problems are the extraction of living resources and not only, pollution of the waters with nutrients, chemicals, noise and underwater garbage, disturbances of the sea beds, introduction of foreign species, heating, acidification and loss of oxygen from the water, which have effects combined.
The closer to the coast, the more these impacts are felt, highlights the agency, which is justified by the activities on land.
Fish and marine mammals suffer the most from these impacts, which are manifested in both deep and surface waters.
Even species whose habitat is farther from the coast suffer from impacts in shallow waters: sea turtles have to come ashore to lay eggs, whales feed their offspring along the coast and sea birds use cliffs and wetlands coastal to nest.
Among the solutions already available to address these problems are protection measures such as temporary closures of certain areas or designation of areas of exclusion that cannot be explored.
“This requires profound changes in the way in which European seas are used”, defends the agency, recognizing that it will be necessary “an unprecedented level of socio-economic adaptation and accountability, including at the individual level”.