Islands and overseas Entities – MEP Spyros Danellis & MEP Maurice Ponga


Monday, 03th of December 2012, 15:00
Room JAN 6Q1, European Parliament, Brussels

Summary report

A workshop on “Marine biodiversity conservation in EU Outermost Regions and Overseas Countries and Territories” was held on Monday 3 December 2012 in the European Parliament in Brussels organized by the European Parliament Intergroup “Climate Change, Biodiversity and Sustainable Development” and hosted by MEP Maurice Ponga, co-Chair of the “Islands and Overseas Entities” working group of the Intergroup. It welcomed a large panel of speakers, as well as Member of the European Parliament Maria Do Ceu Patrao Neves, several MEP assistants, representatives from four European Commission DGs - ENV, REGIO, MARE and DEVCO -, alongside Permanent Representations and Embassy representatives, researchers and stakeholders.

Armando Astudillo Gonzalez, Adviser in DG MARE, told the audience that, since most overseas entities are islands, they have a strong maritime vocation and, as a consequence, the protection of marine biodiversity becomes vital for them. As fisheries are considered among the principal threats for marine biodiversity, it is appropriate to discuss how fisheries policies take into account biodiversity protection. The ongoing reform to the CFP has as principal goal to give priority to environmental protection, and consequently to biodiversity. Its basic premise is that only healthy marine ecosystems can give support to a healthy and sustainable fishing sector.

Olivier Laroussinie, Director of the Marine Protected Areas Agency in France, stated that 97% of French waters are in outermost regions and overseas countries and territories, as French Guyana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Reunion, Mayotte, and French Polynesia. Together with Caroline Vieux, in charge of the European Overseas territories study at the Marine Protected Areas Agency and Carole Martinez, Programme Coordinator EU Outermost Regions and Overseas Countries and Territories at IUCN, they presented a study entitled “How does the EU support marine biodiversity conservation in its Outermost regions, Overseas Countries and Territories?”

“Overseas Marine issues are critical and strategic for the EU. Thanks to the European overseas, the EU has the first marine domain of the world nested in all the Oceans of the Blue Planet,” they argued. The Blue Growth Communication and the Limassol Declaration underline the overseas ‘assets’ as strategic ‘gateways’. The speakers called for more coherence of European policies and for greater adaptedness of EU funds for biodiversity in EU overseas waters. We have to develop a long-term marine protection strategy for EU overseas and an enabling funding instrument that would support local marine conservation projects, regional collaboration and research, such as recommended in 2008 at La Réunion Conference. This instrument would be inspired from BEST Preparatory Action, which is currently the most adapted tool to address marine biodiversity issues in EU overseas,” concluded both Carole Martinez and Caroline Vieux.

“Fishermen have to be considered as experts of biodiversity. We have to understand biodiversity before trying to protect it,” said Nicolas Diaz, Secretary General, National Committee of Marine Fisheries and Aquaculture (CRPMEM). The citizens of Guadeloupe live exclusively on their island’s biodiversity, he argued. According to him, the first cause of biodiversity reduction is global warming, not fishermen. Furthermore, he pleased for a reformed CFP that would be geared towards the promotion of sustainable fisheries overseas; “95% of French marine biodiversity is in the overseas; yet, 95% of the funds are allocated to Metropolitan French sea.” The call for taking further into account of Overseas Entities specificities in the reform was also echoed by Thomas Binet, Research fellow at the Centre for the Economics and Management of Aquatic Resources (CEMARE), who also raised awareness on the fact that Outermost Regions and Overseas Countries and Territories do not apply to the same Community rules.

H.S.C. Cedrick Tilma, Representative of the Government of Aruba to the EU, concluded by saying that “Effective action in the biodiversity rich Overseas Countries and Territories is vital to EU’s credibility in the international arena.

Karin Zaunberger, Policy Officer in DG Environment, informed the audience of four BEST projects relevant for marine biodiversity conservation in EU Outermost Regions and Overseas Countries and Territories situated in 3 oceans of the world – the Indian Ocean, the Caribbean and the South Pacific: CARIPES, CORAIL, MIROMEN and PACIOCEA.

This conference was organised by the Secretariat of the European Parliament Intergroup “Climate Change, Biodiversity and Sustainable Development” run jointly by the European Bureau for Conservation and Development (EBCD) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Follow this link for more information on IUCN's work on EU Outermost Regions and Overseas Countries and Territories Programme

Documents of the meeting
Summary Report
List of participants
Agenda EN
Agenda FR

Laroussinie, Martinez, Vieux