Brussels, 02 Jul 2003
Environmental ministerial representatives from the EU and 20 other European countries have formally backed the creation by 2010 of a network of marine protected areas covering the North-East Atlantic and the Baltic Sea.
The pledge was made during the first joint meeting of the commission for the protection of the marine environment of the North-East Atlantic (OSPAR), and the Helsinki Commission to protect the marine environment of the Baltic Sea (HELCOM), on 26 June in Bremen, Germany. OSPAR and HELCOM will be responsible for carrying out the assessment and monitoring of the Baltic and North Atlantic waters and thus defining the protected zones.
The decision to back such an initiative represents a political commitment that stretches from Greenland and Iceland to Russia, and from Norway all the way to the Straits of Gibraltar. In a press statement following the meeting, the representatives announced that the first set of protected areas would be identified by 2006, and that the gaps remaining would be resolved no later than 2010. They also agreed that the process of identifying such zones by OSPAR and HELCOM should be done in close collaboration with the European Community.
In addition, ministers pointed to the development of a European marine strategy as a means to promote the coherence and further integration of efforts by national authorities, the EU and international bodies, to scientifically assess and protect the European marine ecosystem.
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