At the Our Oceans Conference held in Malta on 5 and 6 October the EU has announced that it will spend a little over €550 million on 36 different actions to foster healthier, cleaner, safer and more secure seas. The EU is sending a message to private operators and public authorities on the need to tackle the challenges to oceans including plastic pollution and protecting marine life to the impact of climate change and criminal activities at sea.
The main programmes can be categorised as covering Maritime Security, Marine Pollution and the Blue Economy. Maritime security covers natural disasters, piracy, trafficking and armed conflict and includes programmes on piracy on the African coast line and the Indian ocean, satellite monitoring. The marine pollution programme is by far the one with the least funding and is designed to address the 10 million tonnes of pollution ending up in the sea each year and the estimation that by 2050 the sea will have more plastic than fish. The most recent addition to the EU programme, and the section that will receive the bulk of the funding, is the Blue Economy section which covers research funding and development of pilot projects. A fact sheet with more details was published by the EU Commission on 5 October.