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EU | Environmental groups call for stronger protections in Natura 2000 PAs, especially MPAs

EU countries have been in a race to designate new areas at the expense of putting in place proper management measures. Over the last 20 years, while the total marine protected area surface in Europe has multiplied by six, still 57% of Atlantic habitats and 75% and 40% of Baltic and Mediterranean species remain in bad conservation status 1. Destructive fishing is prevalent inside the Natura 2000 network 2, with several million hours recorded annually 3.

Vera Coelho, senior director of advocacy at Oceana in Europe, said: “As we celebrate 30 years of a pioneering piece of EU nature legislation, let’s not be misled by percentages but be honest about the reality: marine protection in Europe is mostly meaningless. Most marine Natura 2000 sites are merely lines on a map that still allow the most harmful fishing methods, like bottom trawling, to go on inside them. It is questionable as to why they’re called Marine Protected Areas given their lack of actual protection.”

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